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;rowth  and  structure 
)f  the  english  language 


OTTO  JESPERSEN,  ph.d.,  lit.d., 

AUTHOR    OF   "progress    IN    LANGUAGE", 

"lehrbuch  der  phonetik",  "phonetische  grundfragen", 
"how  to  teach  a  foreign  language", 
"a  modern  english  grammar",  etc. 

OF    THE    INSTITUT    DE    FRANCE    1906 





"^I^ -10-76 


The  scope  and  plan  of  this  volume  have  been  set 
forth  in  the  introductory  paragraph.  I  have  endeavoured 
to  write  at  once  popularly  and  so  as  to  be  of  some 
profit  to  the  expert  philologist.  In  some  cases  I  have 
advanced  new  views  without  having  space  enough  to 
give  all  my  reasons  for  deviating  from  commonly 
accepted  theories,  but  I  hope  to  find  an  opportunity 
in  future  works  of  a  more  learned  character  to  argue 
out  the  most  debatable  points. 

I  owe  more  than  I  can  say  to  numerous  predecessors 
in  the  fields  of  my  investigations,  most  of  all  to  the 
authors  of  the  New  English  Dictionary.  The  dates  given 
for  the  first  and  last  appearance  of  a  word  are  nearly 
always  taken  from  that  splendid  monument  of  English 
scholarship,  and  it  is  hardly  necessary  to  warn  the 
reader  not  to  take  these  dates  too  literally.  When  I  say, 
for  instance,  th^it  fenester  was  in  use  from  1 290  to  1548, 
I  do  not  mean  to  say  that  the  word  was  actually  heard 
for  the  first  and  for  the  last  time  in  those  two  years, 
but  only  that  no  earlier  or  later  quotations  have  been 
discovered  by  the  painstaking  authors  of  that  dictionary. 

I  have  departed  from  a  common  practice  in  retaining 
the  spelling  of  all  authors  quoted.  I  see  no  reason  why 
in  so  many  English  editions  of  Shakespeare  the  spelling  is 
modernized  while  in  quotations  from  other  Elizabethan 
authors  the  old  spelling  is  followed.  Quotations  from 
Shakespeare  are  here  regularly  given  in  the  spelling  of 
the  First  FoHo  (1623).  The  only  point  where,  for  the 
convenience  of  modern  readers,  I  regulate  the  old  usage, 


IV  Preface. 

is  with  regard  to  capital  letters  and  «,  z',  z*,  /,  printing, 
for  instance,  us  and  love  instead  of  vs  and  loue.  —  To 
avoid  misunderstandings,  I  must  here  expressly  state 
that  by  Old  English  (O.  E.)  I  always  understand  the 
language  before  1150,  still  often  termed  Anglo-Saxon. 
I  want  to  thank  Mr.  A.  E.  Hayes  of  London,  Dr. 
Lane  Cooper  of  Cornell  University,  and  especially  Pro- 
fessor G.  C.  Moore  Smith  of  Sheffield  University,  who 
has  in  many  ways  given  me  the  benefit  of  his  great 
knowledge  of  the  English  language  and  of  English 

In  the  second  edition  I  have  here  and  there  modi- 
fied an  expression,  added  a  fresh  illustration,  and 
removed  a  remark  or  an  example  that  was  not  per- 
haps very  felicitously  chosen;  but  in  the  main  the 
work  remains  unchanged. 

Gentofte   (Copenhagen),   September   191 1. 



Chapter  I  ^*^® 

Preliminary  Sketch ^ 

Chapter  II 
The  Beginnings ^^ 

Chapter  III 
Old  English 33 

Chapter  IV 
The  Scandinavians 59 

Chapter  V 
The  French 84 

Chapter  VI 
Latin  and  Greek iH 

Chapter  VII 
Various  Sources 152 

Chapter  VIII 
Grammar ^7^ 

Chapter  IX 
Shakespeare  and  the  Language  of  Poetry     .     .     210 

Chapter  X 
Conclusion 234 

Phonetic  Symbols.     Abbreviations      .     .     .     249 
Index 250 

Chapter  /. 

Preliminary  Sketch. 

1.  It  will  be  my  endeavour  in  this  volume  to  character- 
ize the  chief  peculiarities  of  the  English  language,  and 
to  explain  the  growth  and  significance  of  those  features 
in  its  structure  which  have  been  of  permanent  import- 
ance. The  older  stages  of  the  language,  interesting  as 
their  study  is,  will  be  considered  only  in  so  far  as  they 
throw  light  either  directly  or  by  way  of  contrast  on  the 
main  characteristics  of  present-day  English,  and  an  at- 
tempt will  be  made  to  connect  the  teachings  of  linguistic 
history  with  the  chief  events  in  the  general  history  of  the 
English  people  so  as  to  show  their  mutual  bearings  on 
each  other  and  the  relation  of  language  to  national 
character.  The  knowledge  that  the  latter  conception  is  a 
very  difficult  one  to  deal  with  scientifically,  as  it  may 
easily  tempt  one  into  hasty  generalizations,  should  make 
us  wary,  but  not  deter  us  from  grappHng  with  problems 
which  are  really  both  interesting  and  important. — My 
plan  will  be,  first  to  give  a  rapid  sketch  of  the  language 
of  our  own  days,  so  as  to  show  how  it  strikes  a  foreigner 
—  a  foreigner  who  has  devoted  much  time  to  the  study 
of  English,  but  who  feels  that  in  spite  of  all  his  efforts 
he  is  only  able  to  look  at  it  as  a  foreigner  does,  and  not 
exactly  as  a  native  would — and  then  in  the  following 
chapters  to  enter  more  deeply  into  the  history  of  the 
language  in  order  to  describe  its  first  shape,  to  trace  the 

Jespershn:  English.    2nd  ed.  I 

,2%;  Ic  J  V;         '  '  '     I.'-  Pvelim'inary  Sketch. 

various  foreign  influences  it  has  undergone,  and  to  give 
an  account  ot  its  own  inner  growth. 

2,  It  is,  of  course,  impossible  to  characterize  a  lan- 
guage in  one  formula;  languages,  like  men,  are  too  com- 
posite to  have  their  whole  essence  summed  up  in  one 
short  expression.  Nevertheless,  there  is  one  expression 
that  continually  comes  to  my  mind  whenever  I  think 
of  the  English  language  and  compare  it  with  others:  it 
seems  to  me  positively  and  expressly  masculine,  it  is 
the  language  of  a  grown-up  man  and  has  very  little 
childish  or  feminine  about  it.  A  great  many  things  go 
together  to  produce  and  to  confirm  that  impression, 
things  phonetical,  grammatical,  and  lexical,  words  and 
turns  that  are  found,  and  words  and  turns  that  are  not 
found,  in  the  language.  In  dealing  with  the  English 
language  one  is  often  reminded  of  the  characteristic 
English  hand-writing;  just  as  an  English  lady  will  nearly 
always  write  in  a  manner  that  in  any  other  country 
would  only  be  found  in  a  man's  hand,  in  the  same  manner 
the  language  is  more  manly  than  any  other  language  I 

3.  First  I  shall  mention  the  sound  system.  The  English 
consonants  are  well  defined;  voiced  and  voiceless  con- 
sonants stand  over  against  each  other  in  neat  symmetry, 
and  they  are,  as  a  rule,  clearly  and  precisely  pronounced. 
You  have  none  of  those  indistinct  or  half-slurred  con- 
sonants that  abound  in  Danish,  for  instance  (such  as 
those  in  ha^e,  hage,  liz;lig)  where  you  hardly  know 
whether  it  is  a  consonant  or  a  vowel-glide  that  meets 
the  ear.  The  only  thing  that  might  be  compared  to  this 
in  English,  is  the  r  when  not  followed  by  a  vowel,  but 
then  this  has  really  given  up  definitely  all  pretensions 
to  the  rank  of  a  consonant,  and  is  (in  the  pronunciation 
of  the  South  of  England)  either  frankly  a  vowel  (as  in 
here)  or  else  nothing  at  all  (in  hart,  etc.).    Each  English 

Sound  System.  ^ 

consonant  belongs  distinctly  to  its  own  type,  a  /  is  a  /, 
and  a  ^  is  a  ^,  and  there  an  end.  There  is  much  less 
modification  of  a  consonant  by  the  surroundmg  vowels 
than  in  some  other  languages,  thus  none  of  that  palatal- 
ization of  consonants  which  gives  an  insinuating  grace 
to  such  languages  as  Russian.  The  vowel  sounds,  too, 
are  comparatively  independent  of  their  surroundings,  and 
in  this  respect  the  language  now  has  deviated  widely 
from  the  character  of  Old  English  and  has  become  more 
clear-cut  and  distinct  in  its  phonetic  structure,  although, 
to  be  sure,  the  diphthongization  of  most  long  vowels 
(in  ale,  whole,  eel,  who,  phonetically  eil,  houl,  ijl,  huw) 
counteracts  in  some  degree  this  impression  of  neatness 
and  evenness. 

4.  Besides  these  characteristics,  the  full  nature  of 
which  cannot,  perhaps,  be  made  intelligible  to  any  but 
those  familiar  with  phonetic  research,  but  which  are  still 
felt  more  or  less  instinctively  by  everybody  hearing  the 
language  spoken,  there  are  other  traits  whose  importance 
'can  with  greater  ease  be  made  evident  to  anybody 
possessed  of  a  normal  ear. 

5.  To  bring  out  cleaily  one  of  these  points  I  select  at 
random,  by  way  of  contrast,  a  passage  from  the  language 
of  Hawaii:  'T  kona  hiki  ana  aku  ilaila  ua  hookipa  ia 
mai  la  oia  me  ke  aloha  pumehana  loa.''  Thus  it  goes 
on,  no  single  word  ends  in  a  consonant,  and  a  group  of 
two  or  more  consonants  is  never  found.  Can  any  one 
be  in  doubt  that  even  if  such  a  language  sound  plea- 
santly and  be  full  of  music  and  harmony,  the  total  im- 
pression is  childlike  and  effeminate?  You  do  not  expect 
much  vigour  or  energy  in  a  people  speaking  ouch  a  lan- 
guage; it  seems  adapted  only  to  inhabitants  of  sunny 
regions  where  the  soil  requires  scarcely  any  labour  on 
the  part  of  man  to  yield  him  everthing  he  wants,  and 
where  life  therefore  does  not  bear  the  stamp  of  a  hard 


A  I.  Preliminary  Sketch, 

struggle  against  nature  and  against  fellow-creatures.  In 
a  lesser  degree  we  find  the  same  phonetic  structure  in 
such  languages  as  Italian  and  Spanish;  but  how  different 
are  our  Germanic  tongues.  English  has  no  lack  of  words 
ending  in  two  or  more  consonants,  —  I  am  speaking, 
of  course,  of  the  pronunciation,  not  of  the  spelling  — 
age,  hence,  wealth,  tent,  tempt,  tempts,  months,  helped, 
feasts,  etc.  etc.,  and  thus  requires,  as  well  as  presupposes, 
no  little  energy  on  the  part  of  the  speakers.  That  many 
suchlike  consonant  groups  do  not  tend  to  render  the 
language  beautiful,  one  is  bound  readily  to  concede; 
however,  it  cannot  be  pretended  that  their  number  in 
English  is  great  enough  to  make  the  language  harsh  or 
rough.  While  the  fifteenth  century  greatly  increased  the 
number  of  consonant  groups  by  making  the  e  mute  in 
monthes,  helped,  etc.,  the  following  centuries,  on  the  con- 
trary, lightened  such  groups  as  -ght  in  night,  thought 
(where  the  "back-open''  consonant  as  German  ch  is  still 
spoken  in  Scotch)  and  the  initial  kn-,  gn-  in  know, 
gnaw,  etc.  Note  also  the  disappearance  of  /  in  alms,' 
folk,  etc.,  and  of  r  in  hard,  court,  etc.;  the  final  conso- 
nant groups  have  also  been  simplified  in  comb  and  the 
other  words  in  -mb  (whereas  b  has  been  retained  in 
timber)  and  in  the  exactly  parallel  group  -ng,  for  in- 
stance in  strong,  where  now  only  one  consonant  is  heard 
after  the  vowel,  a  consonant  partaking  of  the  nature  of  n 
and  of  g,  but  identical  with  neither  of  them;  formerly  it 
was  followed  by  a  real  g,  which  has  been  retained  in 

6.  In  the  first  ten  stanzas  of  Tennyson's  "Locksley 
Hall",  three  hundred  syllables,  we  have  only  thirty-three 
words  ending  in  two  consonants,  and  two  ending  in 
three,  certainly  no  excessive  number,  especially  if  we 
take  into  account  the  nature  of  the  groups,  which  are 
nearly  all  of  the  easiest  kind   (-dz:   comrades,   Pleiads; 

Endings.  5 

-mz:  gleams,  comes;  -nz:  robin's,  man's,  turns;  -ns: 
distance,  science;  -ks:  overlooks;  -ts:  gets,  thoughts; 
-kts:  tracts,  cataracts;  -zd:  reposed,  closed;  -st:  rest, 
West,  breast,  crest;  -Jt:  burnish'd;  -nd:  sound,  around, 
moorland,  behind,  land;  -nt:  want,  casement,  went, 
present;  -Id:  old,  world;  It:  result;  -If:  himself;  -pt: 
dipt).  Thus,  we  may  perhaps  characterize  English, 
phonetically  speaking,  as  possessing  male  energy,  but 
not  brutal  force.  The  accentual  system  points  in  the 
same  direction,  as  will  be  seen  below  (26 — 28). 

7.  The  Italians  have  a  pointed  proverb:  "Le  parole 
son  femmine  e  i  fatti  son  maschi."  If  briefness,  concise- 
ness and  terseness  are  characteristic  of  the  style  of  men, 
while  women  as  a  rule  are  not  such  economizers  of 
speech,  English  is  more  masculine  than  most  languages. 
We  see  this  in  a  great  many  ways.  In  grammar  it  has 
got  rid  of  a  great  many  superfluities  found  in  earlier 
English  as  well  as  in  most  cognate  languages,  reducing 
endings,  etc.,  to  the  shortest  forms  possible  and  often 
doing  away  with  endings  altogether.  Where  German 
has,  for  instance,  alle  diejenigen  wilden  Here,  die  dort 
leben,  so  that  the  plural  idea  is  expressed  in  each  word 
separately  (apart,  of  course,  from  the  adverb),  English 
has  all  the  wild  animals  that  live  there,  where  all,  the 
article,  the  adjective,  and  the  relative  pronoun  are  alike 
incapable  of  receiving  any  mark  of  the  plural  number; 
the  sense  is  expressed  with  the  greatest  clearness  imagi- 
nable, and  all  the  unstressed  endings  -e  and  -en, 
which  make  most  German  sentences  so  drawling,  are 

8.  Rimes  based  on  correspondence  in  the  last  syl- 
lable only  of  each  line  (as  bet,  set;  laid,  shade)  are 
termed  male  rimes,  as  opposed  to  feminine  rimes,  where 
each  line  has  two  corresponding  syllables,  one  strong 
and  one  weak  (as  better,  setter;  lady,  shady).    It  is  true 

6  I.  Preliminary'  Sketch. 

that  these  names,  which  originated  in  France,  were  not 
at  first  meant  to  express  any  parallelism  with  the  charac- 
teristics of  the  two  sexes,  but  arose  merely  from  the 
grammatical  fact  that  the  weak  -e  was  the  ending  of 
the  feminine  gender  (grande,  etc.).  But  the  designa- 
tions are  not  entirely  devoid  of  symbolic  significance; 
there  is  really  more  of  abrupt  force  in  a  word  that  ends 
with  a  strongly  stressed  syllable,  than  in  a  word  where 
the  maximum  of  force  is  followed  by  a  weak  ending. 
'Thanks'  is  harsher  and  less  polite  than  the  two-sylla- 
bled 'thank  you'.  English  has  undoubtedly  gained  in 
force,  what  it  has  possibly  lost  in  elegance,  by  reducing 
so  many  words  of  two  syllables  to  monosyllables.  If  it 
had  not  been  for  the  great  number  of  long  foreign,  espe- 
cially Latin,  words,  English  would  have  approached  the 
state  of  such  monosyllabic  languages  as  Chinese,  Now 
one  of  the  best  Chinese  scholars,  G.  v.  d.  Gabelentz, 
somewhere  remarks  that  an  idea  of  the  condensed  power 
of  the  monosyllabism  found  in  old  Chinese  may  be  gath- 
ered from  Luther's  advice  to  a  preacher  'Geh  rasch  'nauf, 
tu's  maul  auf,  hor  bald  auf.'  He  might  with  equal  justice 
have  reminded  us  of  many  English  sentences.  'First 
come  first  served'  is  much  more  vigorous  than  the  French 
'premier  venu,  premier  moulu'  or  'le  premier  venu  en- 
gr^ne',  the  German  'wer  zuerst  kommt  mahlt  zuerst' 
and  especially  than  the  Danish  'den  der  kommer  forst 
til  melle,  far  farst  malet'.  Compare  also  'no  cure,  no  pay', 
'haste  makes  waste,  and  waste  makes  want',  'live  and 
learn,*  'Love  no  man:  trust  no  man:  speak  ill  of  no 
man  to  his  face;  nor  well  of  any  man  behind  his 
back'  (Ben  Jonson),  'to  meet,  to  know,  to  love,  and 
then  to  part'  (Coleridge) ,  'Then  none  were  for  the 
party;  Then  all  were  for  the  state;  Then  the  great 
man  help'd  the  poor.  And  the  poor  man  loved  the 
great'  (Macaulay). 


Monosyllabism.  7 

9.  It  will  be  noticed,  however, — and  the  quotations 
just  given  serve  to  exemplify  this,  too  —  that  itMs  not 
every  collocation  of  words  of  one  syllable  that  produces 
an  effect  of  strength,  for  a  great  many  of  the  short  words 
most  frequently  employed  are  not  stressed  at  all  and 
therefore  impress  the  ear  in  nearly  the  same  way  as  pre- 
fixes and  suffixes  do.  There  is  nothing  particularly  vigor- 
ous in  the  following  passage  from  a  modern  novel:  'It 
was  as  if  one  had  met  part  of  one's  self  one  had  lost  for 
a  long  time',  and  in  fact  most  people  hearing  it  read 
aloud  would  fail  to  notice  that  it  consisted  of  nothing 
but  one-syllable  words.  Such  sentences  are  not  at  all 
rare  in  colloquial  prose,  and  even  in  poetry  they  are  found 
oftener  than  in  most  languages,  for  instance:  — 

And  there  a  while  it  bode ;  and  if  a  man 
Could  touch  or  see  it,  he  was  heal'd  at  once, 
By  faith,  of  all  his  ills. 

(Tennyson,   The  Holy  Grail:) 

But  then,  the  weakness  resulting  from  many  small  con- 
necting words  is  to  some  extent  compensated  in  Eng- 
lish by  the  absence  of  the  definite  article  in  a  good  many 
cases  where  other  languages  think  it  indispensable,  e.  g. 
•Merry  Old  England',  'Heaven  and  Earth'";  'life  is  short'; 
'dinner  is  ready';  'school  is  over';  'I  saw  him  at  church', 
and  this  peculiarity  delivers  the  language  from  a  number 
of  those  short  'empty  words',  which  when  accumulated 
cannot  fail  to  make  the  style  somewhat  weak  and 

10.  Business-like  shortness  is  also  seen  in  such  con- 
venient abbreviations  of  sentences  as  abound  in  English, 
for  instance,  'While  fighting  in  Germany  he  was  taken 
prisoner'  (=  while  he  was  fighting).  'He  would  not 
answer  when  spoken  to.'  'To  be  left  till  called  for.'  'Once 
at  home,  he  forgot  his  fears.'  'We  had  no  idea  what  to 
do.'    'Did  they  run.>    Yes,  I  made  them'  (=  made  them 

8  I.  Preliminary  Sketch. 

run).  'Shall  you  play  tennis  to-day.?  Yes,  we  are  going 
to.  I  should  like  to,  but  I  can't.'  'Dinner  over,  he  left 
the  house.'  Such  expressions  remind  one  of  the  abbrevia- 
tions used  in  telegrams;  they  are  syntactical  correspond- 
encies to  the  morphological  shortenings  that  are  also 
of  such  frequent  occurrence  in  English:  cab  for  cabriolet, 
bus  for  omnibus,  photo  for  photograph,  phone  for  telephone, 
and  innumerable  others. 

11.  This  cannot  be  separated  from  a  certain  sobriety 
in  expression.  As  an  Englishman  does  not  like  to  use 
more  words  or  more  syllables  than  are  strictly  necessary, 
so  he  does  not  like  to  say  more  than  he  can  stand  to. 
He  dislikes  strong  or  hyperbolical  expressions  of  appro- 
val or  admiration;  'that  isn't  half  bad'  or  'she  is  rather 
good-looking'  are  often  the  highest  praises  you  can  draw 
out  of  him,  and  they  not  seldom  express  the  same  warmth 
of  feeling  that  makes  a  Frenchman  ejaculate  his  'char- 
mant'  or  'ravissante'  or  'adorable'.  German  kolossal  or 
pyramidal  can  often  be  correctly  rendered  by  English 
great  or  biggish,  and  where  a  Frenchman  uses  his  adverbs 
extremement  or  infiniment,  an  Englishman  says  only  very 
or  rather  or  pretty.  'Quelle  horreur  I'  is  'That's  rather  a 
nuisance'.  'Je  suis  ravi  de  vous  voir*  is  'Glad  to  see  you', 
etc.  An  Englishman  does  not  like  to  commit  himself  by 
being  too  enthusiastic  or  too  distressed,  and  his  language 
accordingly  grows  sober,  too  sober  perhaps,  and  even 
barren  when  the  object  is  to  express  emotions.  There 
is  in  this  trait  a  curious  mixture  of  something  praise- 
worthy, the  desire  to  be  strictly  true  without  exaggerat- 
ing anything  or  promising  more  than  you  can  perform, 
and  on  the  other  hand  of  something  blameworthy,  the 
idea  that  it  is  affected,  or  childish  and  effeminate,  to  give 
vent  to  one's  feelings,  and  the  fear  of  appearing  ridic- 
ulous by  showing  strong  emotions.  But  this  trait  is 
certainly  found  more  frequently  in  men  than  in  women. 

Sobriety.  g 

so  I  may  be  allowed  to  add  this  feature  of  the  English 
language  to  the  signs  of  masculinity  I  have  collected. 

12.  Those  who  use  many  strong  words  to  express  their 
likes  or  dislikes  will  generally  also  make  an  extensive 
use  of  another  linguistic  appliance,  namely  violent  changes 
in  intonation.  Their  voices  will  now  suddenly  rise  to  a 
very  high  pitch  and  then  as  suddenly  fall  to  low  tones. 
An  excessive  use  of  this  emotional  tonic  accent  is  charac- 
teristic of  many  savage  nations;  in  Europe  it  is  found 
much  more  in  Italy  than  in  the  North.  In  each  nation 
it  seems  as  if  it  were  more  employed  by  women  than  by 
men.  Now,  it  has  often  been  observed  that  the  English 
speak  in  a  more  monotonous  way  than  most  other  nations, 
so  that  an  extremely  slight  lising  or  lowering  of  the  tone 
indicates  what  in  other  languages  would  require  a  much 
greater  interval.  'Les  Anglais  parlent  extr^mement  bas', 
says  H.  Taine  [Notes  sur  V Angleterre,  p.  66).  'Une  soci^t^ 
italienne,  dans  laquelle  je  me  suis  fourvoy^  par  hasard, 
m'a  positivement  etourdi;  je  m'6tais  habitue  k  ce  ton 
mod^re  des  voix  anglaises.'  Even  English  ladies  are  in 
this  respect  more  restramed  than  many  men  belonging 
to  other  nations: 

'She  had  the  low  voice  of  your  English  dames, 
Unused ,  it  seems ,  to  need  rise  half  a  note 
To  catch  attention' 

(Mrs.  Browning,  Aurora  Leigh  p.  91).* 

13.  If  we  turn  to  other  provinces  of  the  language  we 
shall   find   our   impression  strengthened   and   deepened. 

It  is  worth  observing,  for  instance,  how  few  diminu- 
tives the  language  has  and  how  sparingly  it  uses  them. 
English  in  this  respect  forms  a  strong  contrast  to  Italian 
with  its  -ino  (ragazzino,  fratellino,   originally  a  double 

I  Cf.  my  Lehrbuch  der  Phonetik,  p.  226;  Fonetik  (Dan.  ed.) 
p.  588. 

lO  I.  Preliminary  Sketch. 

diminutive),  -ina  (donnina),  -etto  (giovinetto),  -etta 
(oretta),  -ello,  -ella  (asinello,  storiella)  and  other  endings, 
German  with  its  -chen  und  -lein,  especially  South  German 
with  its  eternal  -le,  Dutch  with  its  -;>,  Russian,  Magyar, 
and  Basque  with  their  various  endings.  The  continual 
recurrence  of  these  endings  without  any  apparent  ne- 
cessity cannot  but  produce  the  impression  that  the 
speakers  are  innocent,  childish,  genial  beings  with  no 
great  business  capacities  or  seriousness  in  life.  But  in 
English  there  are  very  few  of  these  fondling-endings; 
•let  is  in  the  first  place  a  comparatively  modern  ending, 
very  few  of  the  words  in  which  it  is  used  go  back  more 
than  a  hundred  years;  and  then  its  extensive  use  in 
modern  times  is  chiefly  due  to  the  naturalists  who  want 
it  to  express  in  a  short  and  precise  manner  certain  small 
organs  [budlet  Darwin ;  hladelet  Todd ;  conelet  Dana ;  bulb- 
let  Gray;  leaflet,  fruitlet,  jeatherlet,  etc.) — an  employ- 
ment of  the  diminutive  which  is  as  far  removed  as  pos- 
sible from  the  terms  of  endearment  found  in  other  lan- 
guages. The  endings  -kin  and  -ling  (princekin,  prince- 
ling) are  not  very  frequently  used  and  generally  express 
contempt  or  derision.  Then,  of  course,  there  is  -y,  -ie 
(Billy,  Dicky,  auntie,  birdie,  etc.)  which  corresponds 
exactly  to  the  fondling-suffixes  of  other  languages;  but 
its  application  in  English  is  restricted  to  the  nursery  and 
it  is  hardly  ever  used  by  grown-up  people  except  in  speak- 
ing to  children.  Besides,  this  ending  is  more  Scotch 
than  English,  and  the  Scotch  with  all  their  deadly  ear- 
nestness, especially  in  religious  matters,  are,  perhaps,  in 
some  respects  more  childlike  than  the  English. 

14.  The  business-like,  virile  qualities  of  the  English 
language  also  manifest  themselves  in  such  things  as  word- 
order.  Words  in  English  do  not  play  at  hide-and-seek, 
as  they  often  do  in  Latin,  for  instance,  or  in  German, 
where   ideas   that  by  right   belong   together   are   widely 

Word  -  order.  1 1 

sundered  in  obedience  to  caprice  or,  more  often,  to  a 
rigorous  grammatical  rule.  In  English  an  auxiliary  verb 
does  not  stand  far  from  its  main  verb,  and  a  negative 
will  be  found  in  the  immediate  neighbourhood  of  the 
word  it  negatives,  generally  the  verb  (auxiliary).  An 
adjective  nearly  always  stands  before  its  noun;  the  only 
really  important  exception  is  when  there  are  qualifications 
added  to  it  which  draw  it  after  the  noun  so  that  the 
whole  complex  serves  the  purpose  of  a  relative  clause: 
*a  man  every  way  prosperous  and  talented'  (Tennyson), 
*an  interruption  too  brief  and  isolated  to  attract  more 
notice'  (Stevenson).  And  the  same  regularity  is  found 
in  modern  English  word-order  in  other  respects  as  well. 
A  few  years  ago  I  made  my  pupils  calculate  statistically 
various  points  in  regard  to  word-order  in  different  lan- 
guages. I  give  here  only  the  percentage  in  some  modern 
authors  of  sentences  in  which  the  subject  preceded  the 
verb  and  the  latter  in  its  turn  preceded  its  object  (as 
in  'I  saw  him'  as  against  'Him  I  saw,  but  not  her'  or 
'Whom  did  you  see.?'):  — 

Shelley,  prose  89,  poetry  85. 

Byron,  prose  93,  poetry  81. 

Macaulay,  prose   82. 

Carlyle,  prose  87.  •  . 

Tennyson,  poetry  88. 

Dickens,  prose  91, 

Swinburne,  poetry  83. 

Pinero,  prose  97. 

For  the  sake  of  comparison  I  mention  that  one  Danish 
prose-writer  (J.  P.  Jacobsen)  had  82,  a  Danish  poet 
(Drachmann)  61,  Goethe  (poetry)  30,  a  modern  German 
prose-writer  (Tovote)  31,  Anatole  France  66,  Gabriele 
d'Annunzio  49  per  cent  of  the  same  word-order.  That 
English  has  not  always  had  the  same  regularity,  is  shown 
by  the  figure  for  Beowulf  being  16,  and  for  King  Alfred's 

12  I.  Preliminary  Sketch. 

prose  40.  Even  if  I  concede  that  our  statistics  did  not 
embrace  a  sufficient  number  of  extracts  to  give  fully 
reliable  results,  still  it  is  indisputable  that  English  shows 
more  regularity  and  less  caprice  in  this  respect  than  most 
or  probably  all  cognate  languages,  without  however, 
attaining  the  rigidity  found  in  Chinese,  where  the  per- 
centage in  question  would  be  lOO  (or  very  near  it).  Eng- 
lish has  not  deprived  itself  of  the  expedient  of  inverting 
the  ordinary  order  of  the  members  of  a  sentence  when 
emphasis  requires  it,  but  it  makes  a  more  sparing  use 
of  it  than  German  and  the  Scandinavian  languages,  and 
in  most  cases  it  will  be  found  that  these  languages 
emphasize  without  any  real  necessity,  especially  in  a 
great  many  every-day  phrases:  'daer  har  jeg  ikke  vaeret', 
'dort  bin  ich  nicht  gewesen',  'I  haven't  been  there'; 
'det  kan  jeg  ikke',  *das  kann  ich  nicht',  'I  can't  do  that'. 
How  superfluous  the  emphasis  is,  is  best  shown  by  the 
usual  phrase,  'det  veed  jeg  ikke',  'das  weiss  ich  nicht', 
where  the  Englishman  does  not  even  find  it  necessary 
to  state  the  object  at  all:  'I  don't  know.'  Note  also  that 
in  English  the  subject  precedes  the  verb  after  most  intro- 
ductory adverbs:  'now  he  comes';  'there  he  goes',  while 
German  and  Danish  have,  and  English  had  till  a  few 
centuries  ago,  the  inverted  order:  'jetzt  kommt  er',  'da 
geht  sie' ;  'nu  kommer  han',  'daer  gar  hun' ;  'now  comes  he', 
'there  goes  she'.  Thus  order  and  consistency  signalize 
^  the  modern  stage  of  the  English  language. 

15.  No  language  is  logical  in  every  respect,  and  we 
must  not  expect  usage  to  be  guided  always  by  strictly 
logical  principles.  It  was  a  frequent  error  with  the  older- 
grammarians  that  whenever  the  actual  grammar  of  a 
language  did  not  seem  conformable  to  the  rules  of  ab- 
stract logic  they  blamed  the  language  and  wanted  to 
correct  it.  Without  falling  into  that  error  we  may,  never- 
theless, compare  different  languages  and  judge  them  by 

Logic.  13 

the  standard  of  logic,  and  here  again  I  think  that,  apart 
from  Chinese,  which  has  been  described  as  pure  applied 
logic,  there  is  perhaps  no  language  in  the  civilized  world 
that  stands  so  high  as  English.  Look  at  the  use  of  the 
tenses;  the  difference  between  the  past  he  saw  and  the 
composite  perfect  he  has  seen  is  maintained  with  great 
consistency  as  compared  with  the  similarly  formed  tenses 
in  Danish,  not  to  speak  of  German,  so  that  one  of  the 
most  constant  faults  committed  by  English-speaking 
Germans  is  the  wrong  use  of  these  forms  ('Were  you  in 
Berlin?'  for  'Have  you  been  in  (or  to)  Berlin?',  'In  181 5 
Napoleon  has  been  defeated  at  Waterloo'  for  'was  de- 
feated'). And  then  the  comparatively  recent  develop- 
ment of  the  extended  (or  'progressive')  tenses  has  furnished 
the  language  with  the  wonderfully  precise  and  logi- 
cally valuable  distinction  between  'I  write'  and  'I  am 
writing',  'I  wrote'  and  'I  was  writing'.  French  has 
something  similar  in  the  distinction  between  le  pass6 
defini  (j'ecrivis)  and  I'imparfait  (j'6crivais),  but  on  the 
one  hand  the  former  tends  to  disappear,  or  rather  has 
already  disappeared  in  the  spoken  language,  at  any  rate 
in  Paris  and  in  the  northern  part  of  the  country,  so  that 
fai  ecrit  takes  its  place  and  the  distinction  between 
'I  wrote'  and  'I  have  written'  is  abandoned;  on  the  other 
hand  the  distinction  applies  only  to  the  past  while  in 
English  it  is  carried  through  all  tenses.  Furthermore, 
the  distinction  as  made  in  English  is  superior  to  the 
similar  one  found  in  the  Slavonic  languages,  in  that  it  is 
made  uniformly  in  all  verbs  and  in  all  tenses  by  means 
of  the  same  device  [am  -ing),  while  the  Slavonic  languages 
employ  a  much  more  complicated  system  of  prepositions 
and  derivative  endings,  which  has  almost  to  be  learned 
separately  for  each  new  verb  or  group  of  verbs. 

16.  In  praising  the  logic  of  the  English  language  we 
must  not  lose  sight  of  the  fact  that  in  most  cases  where, 

I  A  I.  Preliminary  Sketch. 

so  to  speak,  the  logic  of  facts  or  of  the  exterior  world 
is  at  war  with  the  logic  of  grammar,  English  is  free  from  the 
narrow-minded  pedantry  which  in  most  languages  sacrifices 
the  former  to  the  latter  or  makes  people  shy  of  saying 
or  writing  things  which  are  not  'strictly  grammatical'. 
This  is  particularly  clear  with  regard  to  number.  Family 
and  clergy  are,  grammatically  speaking,  of  the  singular 
number;  but  in  reality  they  indicate  a  plurality.  Most 
languages  can  treat  such  words  only  as  singulars,  but  inr 
English  one  is  free  to  add  a  verb  in  the  singular  if  the 
idea  of  unity  is  essential,  and  then  to  refer  to  this  unit 
as  it,  or  else  to  put  the  verb  in  the  plural  and  use  the 
pronoun  they,  if  the  idea  of  plurality  is  predominant.  It 
is  clear  that  this  liberty  of  choice  is  often  greatly  advan- 
tageous. Thus  we  find  sentences  like  these,  'As  the  clergy 
are  or  are  not  what  they  ought  to  be,  so  are  the  rest  of 
the  nation'  (Miss  Austen),  or  'the  whole  race  of  man 
(sing.)  proclaim  it  lawful  to  drink  wine'  (De  Quincey), 
or  'the  club  all  know  that  he  is  a  disappointed  man'  (the 
same).  In  'there  are  no  end  of  people  here  that  I  don't 
know'  (George  Eliot)  no  end  takes  the  verb  in  the  plural 
because  it  is  equivalent  to  'many',  and  when  Shelley 
writes  in  one  of  his  letters  'the  Quarterly  are  going  to 
review  me'  he  is  thinking  of  the  Quarterly  (Review)  as  a 
whole  staff  of  writers.  Inversely,  there  is  in  English  a 
freedom  paralleled  nowhere  else  of  expressing  grammati- 
cally a  unity  consisting  of  several  parts,  of  saying,  for 
instance,  'I  do  not  think  I  ever  spent  a  more  delightful 
three  weeks'  (Ch.  Darwin),  'for  a  quiet  twenty  minutes', 
'another  United  States',  cf.  also  'a  fortnight'  (originally 
a  fourteen-night) ;  'three  years  is  but  short'  (Shakespeare), 
'sixpence  was  offered  him'  (Ch.  Darwin),  'ten  minutes 
is  heaps  of  time'  (E.  F.  Benson),  etc.  etc. 

17.  A  great  many  other  phenomena  in  English  show 
the  same  freedom  from  pedantry,  as  when  passive  con- 

Freedom  from  Pedantry.  I  e 

structions  such  as  'he  was  taken  no  notice  of  are  allowed, 
or  when  adverbs  or  prepositional  complexes  may  be 
used  attributively  as  in  'his  then  residence/  'an  almost 
reconciliation'  (Thackeray),  'men  invite  their  out-College 
friends'  (Steadman),  'smoking  his  before-breakfast  pipe' 
(Co.  Doyle),  'in  his  threadbare,  out-at-elbow  shooting- 
jacket'  (G.  du  Maurier),  or  when  even  whole  phrases  or 
sentences  may  be  turned  into  a  kind  of  adjective,  as  in 
'with  a  quite  at  home  kind  of  air'  (Smedley),  'in  the 
pretty  diamond-cut-diamond  scene  between  Pallas  and 
Ulysses'  (Ruskin),  'a  little  man  with  a  puffy  Say-nothing 
to-me-,  -or-FU-contradict-you  sort  of  countenance' 
(Dickens),  'With  an  I-turn-the-crank-of-the-Universe  air' 
(Lowell),  'Rose  is  simply  self-willed;  a  'she  will'  or  'she 
won't'  sort  of  httie  person'  (Meredith).  Although  such 
combinations  as  the  last-mentioned  are  only  found  in 
more  or  less  jocular  style,  they  show  the  possibilities  of 
the  language,  and  some  expressions  of  a  similar  order  be- 
long permanently  to  the  language,  for  instance,  'a  would- 
be  artist',  'a  stay-at-home  man',  'a  turn-up  collar'.  Such 
things  —  and  they  might  be  easily  miultiplied  —  are  in- 
conceivable in  such  a  language  as  French  where  every- 
thing is  condemned  that  does  not  conform  to  a 
definite  set  of  rules  laid  down  by  grammarians. 
The  French  language  is  like  the  stiff  French  garden^ 
of  Louis  XIV,  while  the  English  is  like  an  English 
park,  which  is  laid  out  seemingly  without  any  definite 
plan,  and  in  which  you  are  allowed  to  walk 
everywhere  according  to  your  own  fancy  without  having 
to  fear  a  stern  keeper  enforcing  rigorous  regulations. 
The  English  language  would  not  have  been  what  it 
is  if  the  English  had  not  been  for  centuries  great 
respecters  of  the  liberties  of  each  individual  and  if 
everybody  had  not  been  free  to  strike  out  new  paths 
for  himself. 

J  5  I-  Preliminary  Sketch. 

18.  This  is  seen,  too,  in  the  vocabulary.  In  spite  of 
the  efforts  of  several  authors  of  high  standing,  the  English 
have  never  suffered  an  Acaden^y  to  be  instituted  among 
them  like  the  French  or  Italian  Academies,  which  had 
as  one  of  their  chief  tasks  the  regulation  of  the  vocab- 
ulary so  that  every  word  not  found  in  their  Dictionaries 
was  blamed  as  unworthy  of  literary  use  or  distinction. 
In  England  every  writer  is,  and  has  always  been,  free 
to  take  his  words  where  he  chooses,  whether  from  the 
ordinary  stock  of  everyday  words,  from  native  dialects, 
from  old  authors,  or  from  other  languages,  dead  or  living. 
The  consequence  has  been  that  English  dictionaries  com- 
prise a  larger  number  of  words  than  those  of  any  other 
nation,  and  that  they  present  a  variegated  picture  of 
terms  from  the  four  quarters  of  the  globe.  Now,  it  seems 
to  be  characteristic  of  the  two  sexes  in  their  relation  to 
language  that  women  move  in  narrower  circles  of  the 
vocabulary,  in  which  they  attain  to  perfect  mastery  so 
that  the  flow  of  words  is  always  natural  and,  above  all, 
never  needs  to  stop,  while  men  know  more  words  and 
always  want  to  be  more  precise  in  choosing  the  exact 
word  with  which  to  render  their  idea,  the  consequence 
being  often  less  fluency  and  more  hesitation.  It  has  been 
statistically  shown  that  a  comparatively  greater  number 
of  stammerers  and  stutterers  are  found  among  men  (boys) 
than  among  women  (girls).  Teachers  of  foreign  languages 
have  many  occasions  to  admire  the  ease  with  which  fe- 
male students  express  themselves  in  another  language 
after  so  short  a  time  of  study  that  most  men  would  be 
able  to  say  only  few  words  hesitatingly  and  falteringly, 
but  if  they  are  put  to  the  test  of  translating  a  difficult 
piece  either  from  or  into  the  foreign  language,  the  men 
will  generally  prove  superior  to  the  women.  With  regard 
to  their  native  language  the  same  difference  is  found, 
though  it  is  perhaps  not  so  easy  to  observe.    At  any  rate 

Vocabulary.  j  >i 

our  assertion  is  corroborated  by  the  fact  observed^^by 
every  student  of  languages  that  novels  written  by  ladies 
are  much  easier  to  read  and  contain  much  fewer  difficult 
words  than  those  written  by  men.  All  this  seems  to 
justify  us  in  setting  down  the  enormous  richness  of  the 
English  vocabulary  to  the  same  masculinity  of  the  English 
nation  which  we  have  now  encountered  in  so  many  various 

To  sum  up:  The  English  language  is  a  methodical, 
energetic,  business-like  and  sober  language,  that  does 
not  care  much  for  finery  and  elegance,  but  does  care  for 
logical  consistency  and  is  opposed  to  any  attempt  to 
narrow-in  life  by  police  regulations  and  strict  rules  either 
of  grammar  or  of  lexicon.  As  the  language  is,  so  also  is 
the  nation, 

For  words,  like  Nature,  half  reveal 

And  half  conceal  the  Soul  within.    (Tennyson.) 

Jbspersbn  :  English,    and  ed. 

Chapter  II. 
The  Beginnings. 

20.  The  existence  of  the  English  language  as  a  separ- 
ate idiom  began  when  Germanic  tribes  had  occupied 
all  the  lowlands  of  Great  Britain  and  when  accordingly 

'  the  invasions  from  the  continent  were  discontinued,  so 
that  the  settlers  in  their  ^ew  homes  were  cut  off  from 
that  steady  intercourse  with  their  continental  relations 
which  always  is  an  imperative  condition  of  linguistic 
unity.  The  historical  records  of  English  do  not  go  so  far 
back  as  this,  for  the  oldest  written  texts  in  the  English 
language  (in  'Anglo-Saxon')  date  from  about  700  and  are 
thus  removed  by  about  three  centuries  from  the  begin-  j 
nings  of  the  language.  And  yet  comparative  philology  is 
able  to  tell  us  something  about  the  manner  in  which  the 
ancestors  of  these  settlers  spoke  centuries  before  that 
period,  and  to  sketch  the  prehistoric  development  of  what 
was  to  become  the  language  of  King  Alfred,  of  Chaucer  \ 
and  of  Shakespeare. 

21.  The  dialects  spoken  by  the  settlers  in  England 
belonged  to  the  great  Germanic  (or  Teutonic)  branch  of 
the  most  important  of  all  linguistic  families,  termed  by 
many  philologists  the  Indo-European  (or  Indo-Germanic) 
and  by  others,  and  to  my  mind  more  appropriately, 
Arian  (Aryan).  The  Arian  family  comprises  a  great 
variety  of  languages,  including,  besides  some  languages  of 
less  importance,  Sanskrit  with  Prakrit  and  many  living 

Primitive  Arian.  ig 

languages  of  India;  Iranian  with  Modern  Persian;  Greek; 
Latin  with  the  modern  Romance  languages  (Italian, 
Spanish,  French,  etc.);  Celtic,  two  divisions  of  which  still 
survive,  one  in  Welsh  and  Armorican  or  Breton,  the  other 
in  the  closely  connected  Irish  and  Scotch-Gaelic,  besides 
the  nearly  extinct  Manx;  Baltic  (Lithuanian  and  Lettic) 
and  Slavonic  (Russian,  Czech,  Polish,  etc.).  Among  the 
extinct  Germanic  languages  Ulfila's  Gothic  was  the  most 
important;  the  living  are  High  German,  Dutch,  Low, 
German,  Frisian,  English,  Danish,  Swedish,  Norwegian, 
and  Icelandic.  The  first  five  are  generally  grouped  to-' 
gether  as  West-Germajjijc^  ^h^s  the  four  last-mentioned 
or  Scandinavian  languages^onstitute  with  Gothic  the 
East-Germanic  group,  a  grouping  which  does  not,  how- 
ever, account  for  the  really  much  more  complex  rela- 
tionship between  these  languages. 

22.  The  Arian  language,  which  was  in  course  of  time 
differentiated  into  all  these  languages,  or  as  the  same 
,  fact  is  generally  expressed  in  a  metaphor  of  dubious  value, 
was  the  parent-language  from  which  all  these  languages 
have  descended,  must  by  no  means  be  imagined  as  a 
language  characterized  by  a  simple  and  regular  struc- 
ture. On  the  contrary  it  must  have  been,  grammatically 
and  lexically,  extremely  complicated  and  full  of  irreg- 
ularities. Its  grammar  was  highly  inflexional,  the 
relations  between  the  ideas  being  expressed  by  means 
of  endings  more  intimately  fused  with  the  chief  element 
of  the  word  than  is  the  case  in  such  agglutinative  lan- 
guages as  Hungarian  (Magyar).  Nouns  and  verbs  were 
kept  distinct,  and  where  the  same  sense-modifications 
were  expressed  in  both,  such  as  plurality,  it  was  by  means 
of  totally  different  endings.  In  fact,  the  indication  of 
number — the  threefold  division  into  singular,  dual, 
and  plural — was  inseparable  from  the  case-endings  in 
the  nouns  and  frorn  the  person-endings  as  well  as  signs 


20  II-  The  Beginnings. 

of  mood  and  tense  in  the  verbs:  one  cannot  point  to 
distinct  parts  of  such  a  Latin  form  as  est  (cantat)  or  sunt 
(cantant)  or  fuissem  (cantavissem)  and  say,  this  element 
means  singular  (or  plural),  this  one  means  indicative 
(or  subjunctive)  and  that  one  indicates  what  tense  the 
whole  form  belongs  to.  There  were  eight  cases,  but  they 
did  not,  for  the  greater  part,  indicate  such  clear,  con- 
crete, outward  relations  as  the  Finnic  (local)  cases  do; 
the  consequence  was  a  comparatively  great  number  of 
clashings  and  overlappings,  in  form  as  well  as  in  function. 
Each  noun  belonged  to  one  of  three  genders,  masculine, 
feminine,  and  neuter;  but  this  division  by  no  means 
corresponded  with  logical  consistency  to  the  natural  -j 
division  into  (l)  living  beings  of  one  sex,  (2)  living  beings  J 
of  the  other  sex,  and  (3)  everything  else.  Nor  did  the 
moods  and  tenses  of  the  verb  agree  very  closely  with 
any  definite  logical  categories,  the  idea  of  time  being, 
moreover,  mixed  up  with  that  of  'tense-aspect'  (in  Ger- 
man 'aktionsart'),  i.  e.  distinctions  according  as  an  action 
was  viewed  as  momentary  or  protracted  or  iterated,  etc. 
In  the  nominal  as  well  as  in  the  verbal  inflexions  the 
endings  varied  with  the  character  of  the  stem  they  were  ' 
added  to,  and  very  often  the  accent  was  shifted  from  one 
syllable  to  another  according  to  seemingly  arbitrary 
rules,  just  as  in  modern  Russian.  In  a  great  many  cases, 
too,  one  form  was  taken  from  one  word  and  another 
from  a  totally  different  one,  a  phenomenon  (called  by 
Osthoff  'suppletivwesen')  which  we  have  in  a  few  in- 
stances in  modern  English  (good,  better;  go,  went,  etc.). 
An  idea  of  the  phonetic  system  of  the  old  Arian  language 
may  best  be  gathered  from  Greek,  which  has  preserved 
the  old  system  with  great  fidelity  on  the  whole,  especially 
the  vowels.  But  of  course,  no  one  of  the  historically 
transmitted  languages,  not  even  one  of  the  oldest,  can 
give  more  than  an  approximate  idea  of  the  common  Arian 

Germanic,  2 1 

language  distant  from  us  by  so  many  thousand  years,  and 
scholars  have  now  learnt  more  prudence  than  was  shown 
when  Schleicher  was  bold  enough  to  print  a  fable  in  what 
he  believed  to  be  a  fairly  accurate  representation  of  prim- 
itive Arian. 

23.  In  historical  times  we  find  Arian  split  up  into  a 
variety  of  languages,  each  with  its  own  peculiarities,  in 
sounds,  in  grammar,  and  in  vocabulary.  So  different  were 
these  languages  that  the  Greeks  had  no  idea  of  any 
similarity  or  relationship  between  their  own  tongue  and 
that  of  their  Persian  enemies;  nor  did  the  Romans  sus- 
pect that  the  Gauls  and  Germans  they  fought  spoke  lan- 
guages of  the  same  stock  as  their  own.  Whenever  the 
Germanic  languages  are  alluded  to,  it  is  always  in  ex- 
pressions like  these,  'a  Roman  tongue  can  hardly  pro- 
nounce such  names'  or  (after  giving  the  names  of  some 
Germanic  tribes)  'the  names  sound  like  a  noisy  war- 
trumpet,  and  the  ferocity  of  these  barbarians  adds  horror 
even  to  the  words  themselves'.  Julian  the  Apostate 
compares  the  singing  of  Germanic  popular  ballads  to  the 
croaking  and  shrill  screeching  of  birds. ^  Much  of  this, 
of  course,  must  be  put  down  to  the  ordinary  Greek  and 
Roman  contempt  for  foreigners  generally;  nor  can  it 
be  wondered  at  that  they  did  not  recognize  in  these  lan- 
guages congeners  of  their  own,  for  the  similarities  had 
been  considerably  blurred  by  a  great  many  important 
changes  in  sound  and  in  structure,  so  that  it  is  only  the 
patient  research  of  the  nineteenth  century  that  has 
enabled  us  to  identify  words  in  separate  languages  which 
are  now  so  dissimilar  as  not  to  strike  the  casual  observer 
as  in  any  way  related.  What  contributed,  perhaps,  more 
than  anything  else  to  make  Germanic  words  look 
strange,  were  two  great  phonetic  changes  affecting  large 

I  Kluge,  Paul's  Grundriss  I  354. 

2  2  II-  The  Beginnings. 

parts   of  the   vocabulary,    the   consonant- ski ft^   and   the 
stress- shift. 

24.  The  consonant-shift  must  not  be  imagined  as 
having  taken  place  at  one  moment;  on  the  contrary  it 
must  have  taken  centuries,  and  modern  research  has 
begun  to  point  out  the  various  stages  in  this  develop- 
ment. This  is  not  the  proper  place  to  deal  with  detailed 
explanations  of  this  important  change,  as  we  must  hurry 
on  to  more  modern  times;  suffice  it  then  to  give  a  few 
examples  to  show  how  it  affected  the  whole  look  of  the 
language.  Any  p  was  changed  to  /, — thus  we  have 
father  corresponding  to  pater  and  similar  forms  in  the 
cognate  languages;  any  t  was  made  into  th  [{)],  as  in 
three, — compare  Latin  tres\  any  k  became  h,  —  as 
cornu  =  horn.^  And  as  any  ^  or  ^  or  g,  any  bh,  dh,  gh 
was  similarly  shifted,  you  will  understand  that  there 
were  comparatively  few  words  that  were  not  altered  past 
recognition;  still  such  there  were,  for  instance  mus,  now 

I  In  English  books  this  change  ('die  erste  lautverschiebung ') 
is  often  called  Grimm's  law,  because  the  2nd  edition  of  the  first 
volume  of  Jacob  Grimm's  Deutsche  grammatik  (1822)  made  it 
generally  known.  But  in  his  first  edition  (18 19)  Grimm  did  not 
yet  know  the  law;  between  the  two  editions  he  had  read  the 
Danish  scholar  Rasmus  Rask's  Unders^gelse  om  det  gamle  nor- 
diske  spi'ogs  oprindelse  (written  18 14,  printed  18 18),  where  the 
sound -correspondences  are  clearly  set  forth  on  p.  169.  Grimm 
saw  the  enormous  importance  of  the  discovery  and  formulated 
the  law  in  a  more  abstract  manner  than  Rask.  As  part  of  the 
law  had  been  seen  more  or  less  clearly  by  a  few  earlier  philo- 
logists, and  as  Grimm's  manner  of  stating  it  has  been  considerably 
modified  by  recent  investigations ,  the  law  should  not  be  named 
after  any  one  man.  At  any  rate  it  is  perfectly  absurd  to  extend 
the  name  of  'Grimm's  law'  to  any  similar  phonetic  change,  as 
is  sometimes  done  ('Grimm's  Law  in  South -Africa'). 
L  2  Latin  words  are  here  chosen  for  convenience  only  as  re- 
presenting these  old  consonants  with  great  fidelity;  but  of  course 
it  must  not  be  supposed  that  the  English  words  named  come 
from  the  Latin. 

Sound  Changes.  2  ^ 

mouse,  which  contained  none  of  the  consonants  suscep- 
tible of  the  shifting  in  question. 

25.  The  second  change  affected  the  general  character 
of  the  language  even  more  thoroughly.  Where  pre- 
viously the  stress  was  sometimes  on  the  first  syllable  of 
the  word,  sometimes  on  the  second,  or  on  the  third,  etc., 
without  any  seeming  reason  and  without  any  regard  to 
the  intrinsic  importance  of  that  syllable,  a  complete  revo- 
lution simplified  matters  so  that  the  stress  rules  may  be 
stated  in  a  couple  of  lines:  nearly  all  words  were  stressed 
on  the  first  syllable;  the  chief  exceptions  occurred  only 
where  the  word  was  a  verb  beginning  with  one  out  of  a 
definite  number  of  prefixes,  such  as  those  we  have  in 
modern  English  beget,  forget,  overthrow,  abide,  etc.  Verner 
has  shown  that  this  shifting  of  the  place  of  the  accent 
took  place  later  than  the  Germanic  consonant  -  shift, 
and  we  shall  now  inquire  into  the  relative  importance  of 
the  two. 

26.  The  consonant-shift  is  important  to  the  modern 
philologist,  in  so  far  as  it  is  to  him  the  clearest  and  least 
ambiguous  criterion  of  the  Germanic  languages:  a  word 
with  a  shifted  consonant  is  Germanic,  and  a  word  with 
an  unshifted  consonant  in  any  of  the  Germanic  languages 
must  be  a  loan-word;  whereas  the  shifted  stress  is  no 
such  certain  criterion,  chiefly  because  many  words  had 
always  had  the  stress  on  the  first  syllable.  But  if  we 
ask  about  the  intrinsic  importance  of  the  two  changes, 
that  is,  if  we  try  to  look  at  matters  from  the  point  of 
view  of  the  language  itself,  or  rather  the  speakers,  we 
shall  see  that  the  second  change  is  really  the  more  im- 
portant one.  It  does  not  matter  much  whether  a  certain 
number  of  words  begin  with  a  p  or  with  a  /,  but  it  does 
matter,  or  at  any  rate  it  may  matter,  very  much  whether 
the  language  has  a  rational  system  of  accentuation  or 
not;   and    I  have  no  hesitation  in  saying  that  the  old 

2  4  II.  The  Beginnings. 

V"'  stress-shift  has  left  its  indelible  mark  on  the  structure 
of  the  language  and  has  influenced  it  more  than  any 
other  phonetic  change.^  The  significance  of  the  stress 
shift  will,  perhaps,  appear  most  clearly  if  we  compare 
two  sets  of  words  in  modern  English.  The  original  Arian 
I  stress  system  is  still  found  in  numerous  words  taken  in 
recent  times  from  the  classical  languages,  thus  ^family, 
fa^miliar,  famiWarity  or  ^photograph,  phohographer,  photo- 
^graphic,^  The  shifted  Germanic  system  is  shown  in  such 
groups  as  Hove,  Hover,  Hoving,  Hovingly,  Hovely,  Hove- 
liness,  Hoveless,  Hovelessness,  or  ^king,  ^kingdom,  ^kingship, 
^kingly,  ^kingless,  etc.  As  it  is  characteristic  of  all  Arian 
<  languages  that  suffixes  play  a  much  greater  role  than 
prefixes,  word-formation  being  generally  by  endings,  it 
follows  that  where  the  Germanic  stress  system  has  come 
into  force,  the  syllable  that  is  most  important  has  also 
the  strongest  stress,  and  that  the  relatively  insignificant 
modifications  of  the  chief  idea  which  are  indicated  by 
^  formative  syllables  are  also  accentually  subordinate.  This 
is,  accordingly,  a  perfectly  logical  system,  correspond- 
ing to  the  piincipal  rule  observed  in  sentence  stress,  viz. 
that  the  stressed  words  are  generally  the  most  important 
ones.  As,  moreover,  want  of  stress  tends  everywhere  to 
obscure  vowel-sounds,  languages  with  moveable  accent 
are  exposed  to  the  danger  that  related  words,  or  different 
forms  of  the  same  word,  are  made  more  different  than 
they  would  else  have  been,  and  their  connexion  is  more 
obscured  than  is  strictly  necessary;  compare,  for  in- 
stance, the  two  sounds  in  the  first  syllable  of  family  [seP 

1  Except  perhaps  the   disappearance   of  so   many  weak^'s 
about  1400. 

2  I  indicate  stress  by  means  of  a  short  vertical  stroke  '  im- 
mediately before  the  beginning  of  the  strong  syllable. 

3  A  list  of  the  phonetic  symbols  used  in  this  book  will  be 
found  on  the  last  page. 



and  familiar  (9),  or  the  different  treatment  of  the  vowels 
in  photograph,  photographer  and  photographic.  The  pho- 
netic clearness  inherent  in  the  consistent  stress  system 
is  certainly  a  linguistic  advantage,  and  the  obscuration 
of  the  connexion  between  related  words  is  generally  to 
be  considered  a  drawback.  The  language  of  our  fore- 
fathers seems  therefore  to  have  gained  considerably  by 
replacing  the  movable  stress  by  a  fixed  one. 

27.  The  question  naturally  arises:  why  was  the  accent 
shifted  in  this  way.?  Two  possible  answers  present  them- 
selves. The  change  may  have  been  either  a  purely 
mechanical  process,  by  which  the  first  syllable  was 
stressed  without  any  regard  to  signification,  or  else  it 
may  have  been  a  psychological  process,  by  which  the 
root  syllable  became  stressed  because  it  was  the  most 
important  part  of  the  word.  As  in  the  vast  majority  of 
cases  the  root  syllable  is  the  first,  the  question  must 
be  decided  from  those  cases  where  the  two  things  are 
not  identical.  Kluge^  infers  from  the  treatment  of  re- 
duplicated forms  of  the  perfect  corresponding  to  Latin 
cecidi,  peperci,  etc.  that  the  shifting  was  a  purely  mechani- 
cal process;  for  it  was  hot  the  most  important  syllable 
that  was  stressed  in  Gothic  haihait  'called',  rairo^  're- 
flected', lailot  'let'  (read  ai  as  short  e),  while  in  the  Old 
English  forms  of  these  words  heht,  reord,  leort  the  vowel 
of  the  root  syllable  actually  disappears.  But  it  may  be 
objected  to  this  view  that  the  reduplicated  syllable  was 
in  some  measure  the  bearer  of  the  root  signification,  as 
it  had  enough  left  of  the  root  to  remind  the  hearer  of 
it,  and  in  pronouncing  it  the  speaker  had  before, him  part 
at  least  of  the  significant  elements.  The  first  syllable  of 
a  reduplicated  perfect  must  to  him  have  been  of  a  far 
greater    importance    than    one  of  those   prefixes  which 

I  Paul's  Grundriss  I  2  389. 

26  II-  The  Beginnings. 

served  only  to  modify  to  a  small  extent  the  principal 
idea  expressed  in  the  root  syllable.  The  fact  that 
the  reduplicated  syllable  attracted  the  accent  therefore 
speaks  less  strongly  in  favour  of  the  mechanical  ex- 
planation than  does  the  want  of  stress  on  the  verbal 
prefixes  in  the  opposite  direction,  so  that  the  case 
/seems  to  me  strongest  for  the  psychological  theory. 
In  other  words,  we  have  here  a  case  of  value- stressing;'^ 
that  part  of  the  word  which  is  of  greatest  value  to 
the  speaker  and  which  therefore  he  especially  wants 
the  hearer  to  notice,  is  pronounced  with  the  strongest 

28.  We  find  the  same  principle  of  value-stressing 
everywhere,  even  in  those  languages  whose  traditional 
stress  rests  or  may  rest  on  other  syllables  than  the  root 
— this  word  is  here  used  not  in  the  sense  of  the  ety- 
mologically  original  part  of  the  word,  but  in  the  sense 
of  what  is  to  the  actual  instinct  of  the  speaker  intrinsi- 
cally the  most  significant  element — but  in  these  lan- 
guages it  only  plays  the  part  of  causing  a  deviation  from 
the  traditional  stress  now  and  then  whereas  in  Germanic 
it  became  habitual  to  stress  the  root  syllable^,  and  this 
led  to  other  consequences  of  some  interest.  In  those 
languages  where  the  stress  syllable  is  not  always  the  most 
significant  one,  the  difference  between  stressed  and  un- 
stressed syllables  is  generally  less  than  in  the  Germanic 
languages;  there  is  a  nicer  and  subtler  play  of  accent, 
which  we  may  observe  in  French,  perhaps,  better  than 
elsewhere.  In  nous  chantons  the  last  syllable  is  stressed, 
but  chan-  is  stronger  than  for-  in  Eng.  we  forget,  because 
its  psychological  value  is  greater.     Where  a  contrast  is 

1  See  my  Fonetik,  Copenh.  1899,  p.  557  and  5(^0;  Lehrbuch 
def   Phonetik,  Leipz.  1904,  p.  209 ff. 

2  Fonetik,  p.  554;  Lehrbuch  der  Phonetik,  p.  270. 

Accent.  2  7 

to  be  expressed  it  will  most  often  be  associated  with  one 
of  the  traditionally  unstressed  syllables,  and  the  result 
is  that  the  contrast  is  brought  vividly  before  the  mind 
with  much  less  force  than  is  necessary  in  English;  in  nous 
chantons,  et  nous  ne  dansons  pas  you  need  not  even  make 
chan  and  dan  stronger,  at  any  rate  not  much  stronger 
than  the  endings,  while  in  English  we  sing,  hut  we  don't 
dance,  the  syllables  sing  and  dance  must  be  spoken  with 
an  enormous  force,  because  they  are  in  themselves 
strongly  stressed  even  when  no  contrast  is  to  be  pointed 
out.  A  still  better  example  is  French  c'est  un  acteur  et 
non  pas  un  auteur  and  English  he  is  an  actor,  and  not  an 
author;  the  Frenchman  produces  the  intended  effect  by 
a  slight  tap,  so  to  speak,  on  the  two  initial  syllables  of 
the  contrasted  words,  while  an  Englishman  hammers 
or  knocks  the  corresponding  syllables  into  the  head  of 
the  hearer.  The  French  system  is  more  elegant,  more 
artistic;  the  Germanic  system  is  heavier  or  more  clumsy, 
perhaps,  in  such  cases  as  those  just  mentioned,  but  on 
the  whole  it  must  be  said  to  be  more  rational,  more  logi- 
cal, as  an  exact  correspondence  between  the  inner  and 
the  outer  world  is  established,  if  the  most  significant 
element  receives  the  strongest  phonetic  expression.  This 
Germanic  stress-principle  has  been  instrumental  in 
bringing  about  important  changes  in  other  respects  than 
those  considered  here.  But  what  has  been  said  here 
seems  to  me  to  indicate  a  certain  connexion  between 
language  and  national  character;  for  has  it  not  always 
been  considered  characteristic  of  the  Germanic  peoples 
(English,  Scandinavians,  Germans)  that  they  say  their 
say  bluntly  without  much  considering  the  artistic  effect, 
and  that  they  emphasize  what  is  essential  without  al- 
ways having  due  regard  to  nuances  or  accessory  notions.? 
and  does  not  the  stress  system  we  have  been  considering 
present  the  very  same  aspect."* 

28  n.  The  Beginnings. 

29.  We  do  not  know  in  what  century  the  stress  was 
shifted^  but  the  shifting  certainly  took  place  centuries 
before  the  immigration  of  the  English  into  Great  Britain. 
To  a  similar  remote  period  we  must  refer  several  other 
great   changes   affecting   equally   all   the    Germanic   lan- 
guages.   One  of  the  most  important  is  the  simplification 
of  the  tense  system  in  the  verb,  no  Germanic  language 
having  more  than  two  tenses,  a  present  and  a  past.    As 
many  of  the  old  endings  gradually  wore  off,  they  were 
not  in  themselves  a  sufficiently  clear  indication  of  the 
differences  of  tense,   and  the  gradation   (ablaut)   of  the 
root  vowel,  which  had  at  first  been  only  an  incidental  con- 
sequence of  differences  of  accentuation,   was  felt   more 
and  more  as  the  real  indicator  of  tense.     But  neither 
gradation  nor  the  remaining  endings  were  fit  to   make 
patterns  for  the  formation  of  tenses  in  new  verbs;  con- 
sequently, we  see  very  few  additions  to  the  old  stock 
of  'strong'  verbs,  and  a  new  type  of  verbs,  'weak  verbs', 
is  constantly  gaining  ground.    Whatever  may  have  been 
the  origin  of  the  dental  ending  used  in  the  past  tense  of 
these  verbs,  it  is  very  extensively  used  in  all  Germanic 
languages  and  is,  indeed,   one  of  the  characteristic  fea- 
tures  of  their    inflexional    system.      It  has  become  the 
'regular'  mode  of  forming  the  preterite,  that  is,  the  one 
resorted  to  whenever  new  verbs  are  called  into  existence. 

30.  To  this  early  period,  while  the  English  were  still 
living  on  the  Continent  with  their  Germanic  brethren, 

I  Nothing  can  be  concluded  from  the  existence  at  the  time 
"t)f  Tacitus  of  such  series  of  alliterating  names  for  members  of 
the  same  family  as  Segestes  Segimerus  Segimundus,  etc.  (Kluge, 
Paul's  Grundriss  ^357,  388)  for  alliteration  does  not  necessarily 
imply  that  the  syllable  has  the  chief  stress  of  the  word;  cf.  the 
French  formulas  7nesse  et  matines,  Florient  et  Floretie ,  Basans 
et  Basilie,  monts  et  merveilles,  quivivraverra,  d  tortetd  travers 
(Nyrop,  Grammaire  his  tongue  I  *448). 

Loan-words.  2Q 

belong  the  first  class  of  loan-words.  No  language  is 
entirely  pure;  we  meet  with  no  nation  that  has  not 
adopted  some  loan-words,  so  we  must  suppose  that  the 
forefathers  of  the  old  Germanic  tribes  adopted  words 
from  a  great  many  other  nations  with  whom  they  came 
into  contact;  and  scholars  have  attempted  to  point  out 
words  borrowed  very  early  from  various  sources.  Some 
of  these,  however,  are  doubtful,  and  none  of  them  are 
important  enough  to  arrest  our  attention  before  we  arrive 
at  the  period  when  Latin  influence  began  to  be  felt  in 
the  Germanic  world,  that  is,  about  the  beginning  of  our 
Christian  era.  But  before  we  look  at  these  borrowings 
in  detail,  let  us  first  consider  for  a  moment  the  general 
lesson  that  may  be  derived  from  the  study  of  words 
taken  over  from  one  language  into  another. 

31.  Loan-words  have  been  called  the  milestones  of 
philology,  because  in  a  great  many  instances  they  per- 
mit us  to  fix  approximatively  the  dates  of  linguistic 
changes.  But  they  might  with  just  as  much  right  be  termed 
some  of  the  milestones  of  general  history,  because  they 
show  us  the  course  of  civilization  and  the  wanderings 
of  inventions  and  institutions,  and  in  many  cases  give 
us  valuable  information  as  to  the  inner  life  of  nations 
when  dry  annals  tell  us  nothing  but  the  dates  of  the 
deaths  of  kings  and  bishops.  When  in  two  languages 
we  find  no  trace  of  the  exchange  of  loan-words  one  way 
or  the  other  we  are  safe  to  infer  that  the  two  nations 
have  had  nothing  to  do  with  each  other.  But  if  they 
have  been  in  contact,  thef  number  of  the  loan-words  and 
still  more  the  quality  of  the  loan-words,  if  rightly  inter- 
preted, will  inform  us  of  their  reciprocal  relations,  they 
will  show  us  which  of  them  has  been  the  more  fertile 
in  ideas  and  on  what  domains  of  human  activity  each 
has  been  superior  to  the  other.  If  all  other  sources  of 
information  were  closed  to  us  except  such  loan-words 

JO  !!•  The  Beginnings. 

in  our  modern  North- European  languages  as  piano^ 
soprano,  opera,  libretto,  tempo,  adagio,  etc.,  we  should  still 
have  no  hesitation  in  drawing  the  conclusion  that  Italian 
music  has  played  a  great  role  all  over  Europe.  Similar 
instances  might  easily  be  multiplied,  and  in  many  ways 
the  study  of  language  brings  home  to  us  the  fact  that 
when  a  nation  produces  something  that  its  neighbours 
think  worthy  of  imitation  these  will  take  over  not  only 
the  thing  but  also  the  name.  This  will  be  the  general 
rule,  though  exceptions  may  occur,  especially  when  a 
language  possesses  a  native  word  that  will  lend  itself 
without  any  special  effort  to  the  new  thing  imported 
from  abroad.  But  if  a  native  word  is  not  ready  to  hand 
it  is  easier  to  adopt  the  ready-made  word  used  in  the 
other  country,  nay  this  foreign  word  is  very  often  im- 
ported even  in  cases  where  it  would  seem  to  offer  no 
great  difficulty  to  coin  an  adequate  expression  by  means 
of  native  word-material.  As,  on  the  other  hand,  there 
is  generally  nothing  to  induce  one  to  use  words  from 
foreign  languages  for  things  one  has  just  as  well  at  home, 
loan-words  are  nearly  always  technical  words  belonging 
to  one  special  branch  of  knowledge  or  industry,  and  may 
be  grouped  so  as  to  show  what  each  nation  has  learnt 
from  each  of  the  others.  It  will  be  my  object  to  go 
through  the  different  strata  of  loans  in  English  with 
special  regard  to  their  significance  in  relation  to  the 
history  of  civilization. 

32.  What,  then,  were  the  principal  words  that  the 
barbarians  learnt  from  Rome  in  this  period  which  may 
be  called  the  pagan  or  pre-Christian  period.?^  One  of 
the  earliest,  no  doubt,  was  wine  (Lat.  vinum),  and  a  few 

I  See  especially  Kluge ,  Paul's  Gnnidriss ,  p.  327 ff.;  Pogat- 
scher,  J^autlehre  der  griech.,  lat.  it.  roman.  leluiworte  im  alt- 
englischen  (Strassb.  1888).  I  give  the  words  in  their  modern 
English  forms,  wherever  possible. 

Latin  Words.  5j 

other  words  connected  with  the  cultivation  of  the  vine 
and  the  drinking  of  wine  such  as  Lat.  calicem,  OE.  calic 
(Germ,  kelch)  'a  cup'.  It  is  worth  noting,  too,  that  the 
chief  type  of  Roman  merchants  that  the  Germanic  people 
dealt  with,  were  the  caupones  'wine-dealers,  keepers  of 
wine-shops  or  taverns';  for  the  word  German  kaufen, 
OE.  ceapian  'to  buy'  is  derived  from  it,^as  is  also  cheap, 
the  old  meaning  of  which  was  'bargain,  price'.  (Cf. 
Cheapside).  Another  word  of  commercial  significance  is 
monger  (fishmonger,  ironmonger,  costermonger),  OE. 
mangere  from  an  extinct  verb  mangian,  derived  from  Lat. 
mango  'retailer'.  Lat.  moneta,  pondo,  and  uncia  were 
also  adopted  as  commercial  terms:  OE.  mynet  'coin, 
coinage',  now  mint;  OE.  pund,  now  pound;  OE.  ynce, 
now  inch;  the  sound-changes  point  to  very  early  borrow- 
ing. Other  words  from  the  Latin  connected  with  com- 
merce and  travel  are:  mile,  anchor,  punt  (OE.  punt  from 
Lat.  ponto) ;  a  great  many  names  for  vessels  or  receptacles 
of  various  kinds;  I  take  some  from  Pogatscher's  list^  and 
add  the  modern  forms  if  the  word  is  still  living:  cist 
(chest),  hinn  (bin),  byden,  bytt,  cylle,  omber  or  amber 
(amber),  disc  (dish),  scutel,  ore,  cytel  (kettle),  mortere 
(mortar),  earc  (ark),  etc.  This  makes  us  suspect  a  com-  i 
plete  revolution  in  the  art  of  cooking  food,  an  impression 
which  is  strengthened  by  such  Latin  loan-words  as  cook 
(OE.  coc  from  coquus),  kitchen  (OE.  cycene  from  coquina) 
and  mill  (OE.  mylen  from  molina),  as  well  as  names  for 
a  great  many  plants  and  fruits  which  had  not  previously 
been  cultivated  in  the  north  of  Europe,  such  as  pear, 
OE.  cirs  'cherry',  persoc  'peach'  (the  modern  forms  are 
later  adoptions  from  the  French),  plum  (OE.  plume, 
from  prunus),  pea  (OE.  pise  from  pisum),  cole  {caul,  kale, 
Scotch  kail,  from  Lat.  caulis),   OE.  ncep,  found  in  the 

I  1.  c.  122.     Cf.  also  Kluge,  p.  331. 

32  II-  The  Beginnings. 

second  syllable  of  mod.  turnip,  from  napus,  beet  (root), 
mint,  pepper,  etc.  As  military  words,  though  not  wanting, 
were  not  taken  over  in  such  great  numbers  as  one  might 
expect,  we  have  now  gone  through  the  principal  cate- 
gories of  early  loans  from  the  Latin  language,  from  which 
conclusions  as  to  the  state  of  civilization  may  be  drawn. 
In  comparing  them  with  later  loan-words  from  the  same 
source  we  are  struck  by  their  concrete  character.  It  was 
not  Roman  philosophy  or  the  higher  mental  culture  that 
impressed  our  Germanic  forefathers;  they  were  not  yet 
ripe  for  that  influence,  but  in  their  barbaric  simplicity 
they  needed  and  adopted  a  great  many  purely  practical 
and  material  things,  especially  such  as  might  sweeten 
everyday  life.  It  is  hardly  necessary  to  say  that  the 
words  for  such  things  were  learnt  in  a  purely  oral  manner, 
as  shown  in  many  cases  by  their  forms;  and  this,  too, 
is  a  distinctive  feature  of  the  oldest  Latin  loans  as  op- 
posed to  later  strata  of  loan-words.  They  were  also  short 
words,  mostly  of  one  or  two  syllables,  so  that  it  would 
seem  that  the  Germanic  tongues  and  minds  could  not 
yet  manage  such  big  words  as  form  the  bulk  of  later 
loans.  These  early  words  were  easy  to  pronounce  and  to 
remember,  being  of  the  same  general  type  as  most  of 
the  indigenous  words,  and  therefore  they  very  soon 
came  to  be  regarded  as  part  and  parcel  of  the  native 
language,  indispensable  as  the  things  themselves  which 
they  symbolized. 

Chapter  III. 

Old  English. 

33.  We  now  come  to  the  first  of  those  important 
historical  events  which  have  materially  influenced  the 
Enghsh  language,  namely  the  settlement  of  Britain  by 
Germanic  tribes.  The  other  events  of  paramount  im- 
portance, which  we  shall  have  to  deal  with  in  succes- 
sion, are  the  Scand^inavian  invasion,  the  Npxman  con- 
quest, and  the  revival  of  learning.  A  future  historian 
will  certainly  add  the  spreading  of  the  English  language 
in  America,  Australia,  and  South  Africa.  But  none  of 
these  can  compare  in  significance  with  the  first  con- 
quest of  England  by  the  EngHsh,  an  event  which  was, 
perhaps,  fraught  with  greater  consequences  for  the  future 
of  the  world  in  general  than  anything  else  in  history. 
The  more  is  the  pity  that  we  know  so  very  little  either  of 
the  people  who  came  over  or  of  the  state  of  things  they 
found  in  the  country  they  invaded.  We  do  not  know 
exactly  when  the  invasion  began;  the  date  usually  given  ' 
is  449,  but  Bede,  on  whose  authority  this  date  rests, 
wrote  about  three  hundred  years  later,  and  much  may 
have  been  forgotten  in  so  long  a  period.  Many  consider- 
ations seem  to  make  it  more  advisable  to  give  a  rather 
earlier   date;^   however,    as   we   must   imagine   that   the 

I  R.  Thurneysen,    Wann  sind  die  Germane n  nach  England 
gekommen?  in  Eng.  Studien  22,   163. 

Jespersen:  English.    2nd  ed.  7 

34  ni.  Old  English. 

invaders  did  not  come  all  at  once,  but  that  the  settlement 
took  up  a  comparatively  long  period  during  which  new 
hordes  were  continually  arriving,  the  question  of  date  is 
of  no  great  consequence,  and  we  are  probably  on  the  safe 
side  if  we  say  that  after  a  long  series  of  Germanic  invasions 
the  country  was  practically  in  their  power  in  the  latter 
half  of  the  fifth  century. 

,     34.  Who  were  the  invaders,  and  where  did  they  come 
from?  This,  too,  has  been  a  point  of  controversy.  Accord- 
ing to   Bede,   the  invaders  belonged  to  the  three  tribes 
of  Angles,  Saxons,  and  Jutes;  and  linguistic  history  corrob- 
orates his   statement   in  so   far  as  we  have  really  three 
dialects,  or  groups  of  dialects:  the  Anglian  dialects  in  the 
■■    North  with  two  subdivisions,  Northumbrian  and  Mercian, 
the  Saxon  dialects  in  tlie  grea'ter  part  of  the  South,  the 
most   important    of    which    was    the    dialect   of   Wessex 
(West-Saxon),    and    the   Kentish  dialect,    Kent  having 
been,    according    to    tradition,    settled    by    the    Jutes. 
But  when    Bede    points    out    the    district    now    called 
Angel    (German    Angeln)    in    South    Jutland     (Slesvig) 
^   as   the  home  of  the  Anglians,    and  identifies  the  Jutes 
with    the    inhabitants    of    Jutland,    his    views    have    oi 
late  years  been  much  contested.^     It  is  not   necessary 
here   to    enter    on  this    debatable   ground;    suffice  it  to 
say  that  neither  the  language  of  the  Anglians  nor  that 
of   the    Kentish    people   is    Danish   or  ^hows    any  signs 
of  closer  relationship  with   Danish    than    West  -  Saxon, 
so  that  if  the  settlers  came  from  Angel  and  other  parts  of 
Jutland,  these  districts  cannot  then  have  been  inhabited 
by  the  same  Danish  population  that  has  lived  there  as 

I  See  especially  A.  Erdmann,  i/der  die  heiviat  unci  den  namen 
der  Angel?i.  Upsala  1890.  —  H.  Moller,  Anzeiger  fiir  deutsches 
altertum  XXII,  lagff.  —  G.  Schiitte,  Var  Angleme  Tyskere,  in 
S0nderjydske  aarbeger  1900.  —  O.  Bremer,  in  Paul's  Grundriss 
I  2  1 1 5  ff. ,  where  other  references  will  be   found. 

The  invaders.  le 

far  back  as  ascertained  history  reaches.    The  continental 
language  that  shows  the  greatest  similarity  to  English, 
is  Frisian,  and  it  is  interesting  to  note  that  Frisian  has 
some  points   in  common  with   Kentish  and   some  with 
Anglian,   some  even  with  the  northernmost  division  of 
the  Anglian  dialect,  points  in  which  these  OE.  dialects 
differ  from  literary  West-Saxon.    Kentish  resembles  more 
particularly   West   Frisian,    and   Anglian    East   Frisian^ 
facts  which  justify  us  in  looking  upon  the  Frisians  as  the 
neighbours  and  relatives  of  the  English  before  their  emi- 
gration from  the  continent.    We  may  therefore  speak  of 
Tan  Anglo-Frisian  language,  forming  in  some  respects  a 
J  connecting  link  between  German  Saxon  (Low  German) 
[  on  the  one  hand  and  Scandmavian,  especially  Danish,  on 
V^the  other. 

35.  What  language  or  what  languages  did  the  sett- 
lers find  on  their  arrival  in  Britain.?  The  original  popu- 
lation was  Celtic;  but  what  about  the  Roman  conquest.'* 
The  Romans  had  been  masters  of  the  country  for  cen- 
turies; had  they  not  succeeded  in  making  the  native 
population  learn  Latin  as  they  had  succeeded  in  Spain 
and  Gaul?  Some  years  ago  Pogatscher^  took  up  the 
view  that  they  had  succeeded,  and  that  the  Angles  and 
Saxons  found  a  Brito-Roman  dialect  in  full  vigour.  Po- 
gatscher  endorsed  Wright's  view  that  'if  the  Angles  and 
Saxons  had  never  come,  we  should  have  been  now  a 
people  talking  a  Neo-Latin  tongue ,  closely  resem- 
bling French.'  But  this  view  was  very  strongly 
attacked   by  Loth^,    and   Pogatscher,    in   a   subsequent 

1  W.  Heuser,  Altfriesisches  lesebuch  1903  p.  i — 5,  and  Indo- 
germanische  forschungen,  Anzeiger  XIV  29. 

2  Zur    lautlehre    der    .    .    .    lehnworte     ifn    Altenglischen 

3  Les    mots    latins    aans    les    langues    brittoniques .      Paris 



36  III.  Old  English. 

article^  had  to  withdraw  his  previous  theory,  if  not 
completely,  yet  to  a  great  extent,  so  that  he  no  longer 
maintains  that  Latin  ever  was  the  national  language 
of  Britain,  though  he  does  not  go  the  length  of  saying 
with  Loth  that  the  Latin  language  disappeared  from 
Britain  when  the  Roman  troops  were  withdrawn.  The 
possibility  is  left  that  while  people  in  the  country  spoke 
Celtic,  the  inhabitants  of  the  towns  spoke  Latin  or  that 
some  of  them  did.  However  this  may  be,  the  fact  remains 
that  the  English  found  on  their  arrival  a  population 
speaking  a  different  language  from  their  own.  Did  that, 
then,  affect  their  own  language,  and  in  what  manner  and 
to  what  extent.? 

36.  In  his  'Student's  History  of  England'  p.  31  Gardiner 
says  *So  far  as  British  words  have  entered  into  the  Eng- 
lish language  at  all,  they  have  been  words  such  as  gown 
or  curd,  which  are  likely  to  have  been  used  by  women,  or 
words  such  as  cart  or  pony^  which  are  likely  to  have  been 
used  by  agricultural  labourers,  and  the  evidence  of  lan- 
guage may  therefore  be  adduced  in  favour  of  the  view 
that  many  women  and  many  agricultural  labourers  were 
spared  by  the  conquerors.'  Here,  then,  we  seem  to  have 
a  Celtic  influence  from  which  an  important  historical  in- 
ference can  be  drawn.  Unfortunately,  however,  not  a 
single  word  of  those  adduced  can  prove  anything  of  the 
kind.  For  gown  is  not  an  old  Celtic  word,  but  was  taken 
over  from  French  in  the  14th  century  (mediaeval  Latin 
gunna);  curd,  too,  dates  only  from  the  14  th  century, 
whereas  if  it  had  been  introduced  from  Celtic  in  the  old 
period  we  should  certainly  find  it  in  older  texts;  'it  is  not 
certain  what  relation  (if  any)  the  Celtic  words  hold  to     I 

I  Angelsachsen  u?id  Rommieji.  Engl.  Studien  XIX  329 — 352 
(1894).  See  also  MacGillivray,  The  Influence  of  Christimtity  on 
the  Vocabulary  of  Old  Eftglish  p.  XI. 

Celtic  words. 


the  English'  (N.  E.  D.).    Cart  is  an  Old  Norse  word;  it  is 
found  in  Celtic  languages,  but  is  there  'palpably  a  foreign 
word'  (N.   E.   D.)  introduced  from  English;  and  pony'^, 
finally,  is  Lowland  Scotch  powney  from  Old  French  pou- 
lenet  'a  little  colt',  a  diminutive  of  poulain  'a  colt'.    Simi- , 
larly,  most  of  the  other  words  of  alleged  Celtic  origin  are , 
either  Germanic  or  French  words  which  the  Celts  have 
borrowed  from  English,  or  else  they  have  not  been  used 
in  England  more  than  a  century  or  two;  in  neither  of 
these  cases  do  they  teach  us  anything  with  regard  to  the 
relations  between  the  two  nationalities  fifteen  hundred 
years  ago.^  The  net  result  of  modern  investigation  seems  • 
to  be  that  not  more  than  half  a  dozen  words  did  pass  over 
into  English  from  the  Celtic  aborigines  [bannock,  brock,  ■ 
crock,  dun,  dry  'magician',  slough).    How  may  we  account 
for  this  very  small  number  of  loans?     Sweet^  says  the 
reason  was  that  'the  Britons  themselves  were  to  a  great 
extent  Romanized',  a  theory  which  we  seem  bound  to 
abandon  now  (see  above).    Are  we  to  account  for  it,  as 
Lindelof  does*    from  the  unscrupulous  character  of  the 

1  Skeat,  Notes  on  English  Etymology  224. 

2  Curse,  OE.  cursian,  is  often  referred  to  Ir.  cursagaim,  but 
'no  word  of  similar  form  and  sense  is  known  in  Celtic'  (N.  E.  D.) 
Cradle,  OE.  cradol,  seems  to  be  a  diminutive  of  an  old  Germanic 
word  meaning  'basket'  (O.  H.  G.  chratto).  See  also  hog  in  N.  E.  D. 
Windisch,  in  the  article  quoted  below,  p.  38,  thinks  that  the 
Germanic  tun  in  English  took  over  the  meaning  of  Celtic  dunum 
(Latin  'arx')  on  account  of  the  numerous  old  Celtic  names  of 
places  in  -dunum;  but  in  OE.  tu?i  had  more  frequently  the  meaning 
of  '  enclosure,  yard'  (cf.  Dutch  tuin) ,  '  enclosed  land  round  a  dwell- 
ing', 'a  single  dwelling  house  or  farm'  (cf.  Old  Norse  tun\  still 
in  Devonshire  and  Scotland);  it  was  only  gradually  that  the  word 
acquired  its  modern  meaning  of  village  or  town ,  long  after  the 
influenze  of  the  Celts  must  have  disappeared.  —  Sloga?t,  pibroch, 
clan,  etc  ,  are  modern  loans  from  Celtic. 

3  New  English  Gra?nmar  §  607. 

4  Grunddragen  a/  Engelska  sfirakets  historiska  Ijud-  ochforrn- 
Idra  (Helsingfors    1895  p.  47)  —  an  excellent  little  book. 

38  HI.  Old  English. 

conquest,  the  English  having  killed  all  those  Britons  who 
did  not  run  away  into  the  mountainous  districts?  The 
supposition  of  wholesale  slaughter  is  not,  however,  neces- 
sary, for  a  thorough  consideration  of  the  general  con- 
ditions under  which  borrowings  from  one  language  by 
another  take  place  will  give  us  a  clue  to  the  mystery.^ 
And  as  the  whole  history  of  the  English  language  may  be 
described  from  one  point  of  view  as  one  chain  of  borrow- 
ings, it  will  be  as  well  at  the  outset  to  give  a  little  thought 
to  this  general  question. 

37.  The  whole  theory  of  Windisch  about  mixed  lan- 
guages turns  upon  this  formula:  it  is  not  the  foreign  lan- 
guage a  nation  learns  which  is  made  into  a  mixed  language, 
but  its  own  native  language  becomes  mixed  under  the 
influence  of  the  foreign  language.  When  we  try  to  learn 
and  talk  a  foreign  language  we  do  not  intermix  it  with 
words  taken  from  our  own  language;  our  endeavour  will 
always  be  to  speak  the  other  language  as  purely  as  pos- 
sible, generally  we  are  painfully  conscious  of  every  native 
word  that  we  use  in  the  middle  of  phrases  framed  in  the 
other  tongue.  But  what  we  thus  avoid  in  speaking  a  foreign 
language  we  very  often  do  in  our  own.  One  of  Windisch's 
illustrations  is  taken  from  Germany  in  the  eighteenth 
century.  It  was  then  the  height  of  fashion  to  imitate 
everything  French,  and  Frederick  the  Great  prided  him- 
self on  speaking  and  writing  good  French.  In  his  French 
writings  one  finds  not  a  single  German  word,  but  whenever 
he  wrote  German,  French  words  and  phrases  in  the  middle 
of  German  sentences  abounded,  for  French  was  considered 
more  refined,   more  distingue.     Similarly,  in  the  last  re- 

I  See  especially  Windisch,  Zur  theorie  der  mischsprachen 
unci  lehnworter.  Berichte  iiber  die  verhdl.  d.  sachs.  gesellsch. 
d.  wissensch.  XLIX.  1897  p.  101  ff.  —  G.  Hempl,  Language- 
Rivalry'  and  Speech- Differentiation  in  the  Case  of  Race -Mix- 
ture.   Trans,  of  the  Amer.  Philol.  Association  XXIX.   1898  p.  3off. 

Mixed  Languages.  ig 

mains  of  Cornish,  the  extinct  Celtic  language  of  Cornwall, 
numerous  English  loan-words  occur,  but  the  English  did 
not  mix  any  Cornish  words  with  their  own  language,  and 
the   inhabitants   of   Cornwall   themselves,    whose   native 
language   was    Cornish,    would   naturally   avoid    Cornish 
words  when  talking  English,  because  in  the  first  place 
English  was  considered  the  superior  tongue,  the  language 
of  culture  and  civilization,  and  second,  the  English  would 
not  understand  Cornish  words.    Similarly  in  the  Brittany 
of  to-day,  people  will  interlard  their  Breton  talk  with 
French  words,  while  their  French  is  pure,  without  any 
Breton  words.    We  now  see  why  so  few  Celtic  words  were 
taken  over  into  English.^    There  was  nothing  to  induce 
the  ruling  classes  to  learn  the  language  of  the  inferior 
natives;  it  could  never  be  fashionable  for  them  to  show 
an    acquaintance   with   that  despised   tongue   by   using 
now   and  then  a  Celtic  word.    On  the  other  hand  the 
Celt  would  have   to   learn   the   language  of  his  masters, , 
and    learn    it    well;   he   could  not  think   of   addressing 
his  superiors   in   his   own   unintelligible   gibberish,    and 
if    the    first    generation    did    not    learn    good    English, 
the  second    or   third   would,    while   the  influence   they 
themselves  exercised  on  English  would  be  infinitesimal. 
—  There      can     be      no     doubt     that    this    theory    of 
Windisch's   is    in   the   main   correct,    though   we   shall, 
perhaps,    later   on    see    instances    where  it  holds    good 
only  with  some  qualification.    At  any  rate  we  need  look 
for  no  other  explanation  of  the  fewness  of  Celtic  words  in 

38.  About  600  A.  D.  England  was  christianized,  and 
the  conversion  had  far-reaching  linguistic  consequences. 
We  have  no  literary  remains  of  the  pre-Christian  period,  j 

I  And  so  few  Gallic  words  into  French. 

40  ni.  Old  English. 

\  but  in  the  great  epic  of  Beowulf  we  see  a  strange  niixture 
of  pagan  and  Christian  elements.  It  took  a  long  time 
thoroughly  to  assimilate  the  new  doctrine,  and,  in  fact, 
much  of  the  old  heathendom  survives  to  this  day  in  the 
shape  of  numerous  superstitions.  On  the  other  hand  we 
must  not  suppose  that  people  were  wholly  unacquainted 
with  Christianity  before  they  were  actually  converted, 
and  linguistic  evidence  points  to  their  knowing,  and  hav- 
ing had  names  for,  the  most  striking  Christian  pheno- 
mena centuries  before  they  became  Christians  themselves. 
One  of  the  earliest  loan-words  belonging  to  this  sphere 
is  church,  OE.  cirice ,  cyrice ,  ultimately  from  Greek 
kuriakSn    '(house)    of    the    Lord*   or    rather    the    plural 

,  kuriakd.  It  has  been  well  remarked  that  *it  is  by 
no  means  necessary  that  there  should  have  been  a 
single  kirika  in  Germany  itself;  from  313  onwards. 
Christian  churches  with  their  sacred  vessels  and 
ornaments  were  well  -  known  objects  of  pillage  to 
the  German  invaders  of  the  Empire:  if  the  first 
with  which  these  made  acquaintance,  wherever  sit- 
uated, were  called  kuriakd,  it  would  be  quite  sufficient 
to  account  for  their  familiarity  with  the  word.'^  They 
knew  this  word  so  well  that  when  they  became  Christians 
they  did  not  adopt  the  word  universally  used  in  the  Latin 
church  and  in  the  Romance  languages  {ecclesia,  eglise, 
chiesa,  etc.),  and  the  English  even  extended  the  signi- 
fication of  the  word  church  from  the  building  to  the  con- 
gregation, the  whole  body  of  Christians.  Minster,  OE. 
mynster  from  monasterium,  belongs  also  to  the  pre- 
Christian  period.  Other  words  of  very  early  adoption 
were  devil  from  diaholus,  Greek  didbolos,  and  angel,  OE. 

I  See  the  full  and  able  article  church  in  the  N.  E.  D.  We 
need  not  suppose,  as  is  often  done,  that  the  word  passed  through 
Gothic,  where  the  word  is  not  found  in  the  literature  that  has 
come  down  to  us. 

Christianity,  4 1 

engel^  from  angelus,  Greek  dggelos.  But  the  great  bulk  of 
specifically  Christian  terms  did  not  enter  the  language  till 
after  the  conversion. 

39.  The  number  of  new  ideas  and  things  introduced 
with  Christianity  was  very  considerable,  and  it  is  inter- 
esting to  note  how  the  English  managed  to  express  them 
in  their  language. ^  In  the  first  place  they  adopted  a  great 
many  foreign  words  together  with  the  ideas.  Such  words 
are  apostle  OE.  apostol,  disciple  OE.  discipul,  which  has 
been  more  of  an  ecclesiastical  word  in  English  than  in 
other  languages,  where  it  has  the  wider  Latin  sense  of 
'pupir  or  'scholar',  while  in  English  it  is  more  or  less 
limited  to  the  twelve  Disciples  of  Jesus  or  to  similar 
applications.  Further,  the  names  of  the  whole  scale  of 
dignitaries  of  the  church,  from  the  Pope,  OE.  papa, 
downwards  through  archbishop  OE.  ercebiscop,  bishop 
OE.  biscop,  to  priest  OE.  preost;  so  also  monk  OE.  munuc, 
nun  OE.  nunna  with  provost  OE.  prafost  (praepositus)  and 
profost  (propositus),  abbot  OE.  abbod  (d  from  the  Romance 
form)  and  the  feminine  OE.  abbudisse.  Here  belong  also 
such  obsolete  words  as  sacerd  'priest',  canonic  'canon', 
decan  'dean',  ancor  or  ancra  'hermit'  (Latin  anachoreta). 
To  these  names  of  persons  must  be  added  not  a  few 
names  of  things,  such  as  shrine  OE.  serin  (scrinium),  cowl 
OE.  cugele  (cuculla),  pall  OE.  pcell  or  pell  (pallium);  regol 
or  reogol  '(monastic)  rule',  capitul  'chapter',  mcssse  'mass', 
and  offrian,  in  Old  English  used  only  in  the  sense  of 
'sacrificing,  bringing  an  offering';  the  modern  usage  in 

1  See  below,  §  86,  on  the^ relation  between  the  OE.  and  the 
modern  forms. 

2  See  especially  H.  S.  MacGillivray ,  The  Influeitce  of 
Christianity  on  the  Vocabulary  of  Old  English  (Halle  1902). 
I  arrange  his  material  from  other  points  of  view  and  must 
often  pass  the  limits  of  his  book,  of  which  only  one  half  has 

42  III.  Old  English. 

*he  offered  his  friend  a  seat  and  a  cigar'  is  later  and  from 
the  French. 

40.  It  is  worth  noting  that  most  of  these  loans  were 
short  words  that  tallied  perfectly  well  with  the  native 
words  and  were  easily  inflected  and  treated  in  every  re- 
spect like  these;  the  composition  of  the  longest  of  them, 
ercebiscop,  was  felt  quite  naturally  as  a  native  one.  Such 
long  words  as  discipul  or  capitul,  or  as  exorcista  and  acoli- 
tus,  which  are  also  found,  never  became  popular  words; 
and  anachoreta  only  became  popular  when  it  had  been 
shortened  to  the  convenient  ancor. 

41.  The  chief  interest  in  this  chapter  of  linguistic 
history  does  not,  however,  to  my  mind  concern  those 
words  that  were  adopted,  but  those  that  were  not.  It 
is  not  astonishing  that  the  English  should  have  learned 
some  Latin  words  connected  with  the  new  faith,  but  it 
is  astonishing,  especially  in  the  light  of  what  later  gene- 
rations did,  that  they  should  have  utilized  the  resources 
of  their  own  language  to  so  great  an  extent  as  was  actu- 
ally the  case.  This  was  done  in  three  ways :  by  forming 
new  words  from  the  foreign  loans  by  means  of 
native  affixes,  by  modifying  the  sense  of  existing  Eng- 
lish words,  and  finally  by  framing  new  words  from 
native  stems. 

At  that  period  the  English  were  not  shy  of  affixing 
native  endings  to  foreign  words;  thus  we  have  a  great 
many  words  in  -had  (mod.  -hood):  preosthad  'priesthood', 
clerichad,  sacerdhad,  hiscophad  'episcopate*,  etc.;  also  such 
compounds  as  hiscopsedl  'episcopal  see',  hiscopscir  'dio- 
cese', and  with  the  same  ending  profostscir  'provostship' 
and  the  interesting  scriftscir  'parish,  confessor's  district' 
from  scrift  'confession',  a  derivative  of  scrifan  (shrive) 
which  is  the  Latin  scrihere  with  its  signification  curiously 
changed.  Note  also  such  words  as  cristendom  'Christen- 
dom, Christianity'  (also  cristnes),  and  cristnian  'christen' 

Native  Words. 


or  rather  'prepare  a  candidate  for  baptism'^  and  biscopian 
'confirm'  with  the  noun  biscepung  'confirmation'. 

42.  Existing  native  words  were  largely  turned  to  ac- 
count to  express  Christian  ideas,  the  sense  only  being 
more  or  less  modified.  Foremost  among  these  must  be 
mentioned  the  word  God.  Other  wdrds  belonging  to  the 
same  class  and  surviving  to  this  day  are  sin  OE  synn, 
tithe  OE  teoba,  the  old  ordinal  for  'tenth';  easier  OE 
eastron  was^,the  name  of  an  old  pagan  spring  festival, 
called  after  Austro,  a  goddess  of  spring. ^  Most  of  the 
native  words  adapted  to  Christian  usage  have  since  been 
superseded  by  terms  taken  from  Latin  or  French.  Where 
we  now  say  saint  from  the  French,  the  old  word  was  halig 
(mod.  holy),  preserved  in  All-hallows- day  and  Allhallow- 
e'en]  the  Latin  sand  was  very  rarely  used.  Scaru,  from 
the  verb  scieran  'shear,  cut'  has  been  supplanted  by 
tonsure,  had  by  order,  hadian  by  consecrate  and  ordain, 
gesomnung  by  congregation,  ]>egnung  by  service,  witega  by 
prophet,  'prowere  (irom  J>rowian  'to  suffer')  by  martyr,  J>ro- 
werhad  or  prowung  by  martyrdom,  niwcumen  mann  ('new- 
come  man')  by  novice,  hrycg-hrcegel  (from  hrycg  'back' 
and  hrcegel  'dress')  by  dossal,  and  ealdor  by  prior.  Com- 
pounds of  the  last-mentioned  Old  English  word  were  also 
applied  to  things  connected  with  the  new  religion,  thus 
teobing- ealdor  'dean'  (chief  of  ten  monks).  Ealdormann, 
the  native  term  for  a  sort  of  viceroy  or  lord-lieutenant, 
was  used  to  denote  the  Jewish  High-Priests  as  well  as  the 
Pharisees.    OE  husl,  mod.  housel  'the  Eucharist'^,  was  an 

1  ^Cristnian  signifies  primarily  the  'prima  signatio'  of  the 
catechumens  as  distinguished  irom  the  baptism  proper.'  Mac 
Gillivray  p.  2i. 

2  Connected  with  Sanscrit  usra  and  Latin  aurora  and ,  there- 
fore, originally  a  dawn- goddess. 

3  Still  used  in  the  nineteenth  century ,  e.  g.  by  Tennyson ,  as 
an  archaism. 

44  ni.  Old  English. 

old  pagan  word  for  sacrifice  or  offering;  an  older  form 
is  seen  in  Gothic  hunsl.  The  OE  word  for  'altar',  weofod, 
is  an  interesting  heathen  survival,  for  it  goes  back  to  a 
compound  wigheod  'idol-table*,  and  it  was  probably  only 
because  phonetic  development  had  obscured  its  connex- 
ion with  wig  'idol'  that  it  was  allowed  to  remain  in  use 
as  a  Christian  technical  term. 

43.  This  second  class  is  not  always  easily  distinguished 
from  the  third,  or  those  words  that  had  not  previously 
existed  but  were  now  framed  out  of  existing  native 
speech-material  to  express  ideas  foreign  to  the  pagan 
world.  Word-composition  and  other  formative  processes 
were  resorted  to,  and  in  some  instances  the  new  terms 
were  simply  fitted  together  from  translations  of  the  com- 
ponent parts  of  the  Greek  or  Latin  word  they  were  in- 
tended to  render,  as  when  Greek  euaggelion  was  render- 
ed god-spell  (good-spell,  afterwards  with  shortening  of 
the  first  vowel  godspell,  which  was  often  taken  to  be  the 
'speir  or  message  of  God),  mod.  gospel;  thence  godspellere 
where  now  the  foreign  word  evangelist  is  used.  Heathen, 
OE.  hceben,  according  to  the  generally  accepted  theory,  is 
derived  from  hcel>  'heath'  in  close  imitation  of  Latin 
paganus  from  pagus  'a  country  district'.  Of.  also  ^rynnes 
or  prines  ('three-ness')  for  trinity. 

44.  But  in  most  cases  we  have  no  such  literal  rendering 
of  a  foreign  term,  but  excellent  words  devised  exactly  as 
if  the  framers  of  them  had  never  heard  of  any  foreign 
expression  for  the  same  conception  —  as,  perhaps,  in- 
deed, in  some  instances  they  had  not.  Some  of  these 
display  not  a  little  ingenuity.  The  scribes  and  Pharisees 
of  the  New  Testament  were  called  hoceras  (from  boc  book) 
and  sunder- halgan  {irom  sundor  'apart,  asunder,  separate'); 
in  the  north  the  latter  were  also  called  celarwas  'teachers 
of  the  Law'  or  celdo  'elders'.  A  patriarch  was  called 
heahfceder    'high-father'    or    eald- feeder    'old-father';    the 

New  Terms.  as 

three  Magi  were  called  tungol-witegan  from  tungol  'star', 
and  witega  'wise  man'.  For  'chaplain'  we  have  handpreost 
or  hiredpreost  ('family-priest') ;  for  'acolyte'  different  word 
expressive  of  his  several  functions:  husl^egn  ('Eucharist- 
servant'),  taporherend  ('taper-bearer')  and  wcexberend 
('wax-bearer') ;  instead  of  ercebiscop  'archbishop'  we  some- 
times find  heahhiscop  and  ealdorbiscop.  For  'hermit' 
ansetla  and  westensetla  ('sole-settler',  'desert-settler') 
were  used.  'Magic  art'  was  called  scincrceft  ('phantom- 
art');  'magician'  scincrceftiga  or  scinlceca,  scinnere,  'phan- 
tom' or  'superstition',  scinlac.  For  the  disciples  of  Christ 
we  find,  beside  discipul  mentioned  above,  no  less  than  ten 
different  English  renderings  (cniht,  folgere,  gingra,  hiere- 
mon,  Iceringman,  leornere,  leorning- cniht,  leormngman, 
underpeodda,  ^egn).^  To  'baptize'  was  expressed  by 
dyppan  'dip'  (cf.  German  taufen,  Dan.  debe)  or  more  often 
by  fulwian  (from  ful-wihan  'to  consecrate  completely'); 
'baptism'  by  fulwiht  or,  the  last  syllable  being  phoneti- 
cally obscured,  fulluht,  and  John  the  Baptist  was  called 
Johannes  se  fulluhtere. 

45.  The  power  and  boldness  of  these  numerous  na- 
tive formations  can,  perhaps,  best  be  appreciated  if  we 
go  through  the  principal  compounds  of  God:  godbot  'ato- 
nement made  to  the  church',  godcund  'divine,  religious, 
sacred*,  godcundnes  'divinity,  sacred  office',  godferht 
'pious',  godgield  'idol',  godgimm  'divine  gem',  godhad 
'divine  nature',  godmcegen  'divinity',  godscyld  'impiety', 
godscyldig  'impious',  godsibb  'sponsor',  godsibbrceden 
'sponsorial  obligations',  godspell  (cf.,  however,  §  43), 
godspelbodung  'gospel-preaching',  godspellere  'evangelist', 
godspellian  'preach  the  gospel',  godspellisc  'evangelical', 
godspeltraht  'gospel-commentary',  godsprcece  'oracle',  god- 
sunu  'godson',   god]>rymm  'divine  majesty',  godwrcec  'im- 

I  MacGillivray  p.  44.' 

^5  ni.  Old  English. 

pious',  godwrcecnes  'impiety'.  Such  a  list  as  this,  with  the 
modern  translations,  shows  the  gulf  between  the  old 
system  of  nomenclature,  where  everything  was  native 
and,  therefore,  easily  understood  by  even  the  most  un- 
educated, and  the  modern  system,  where  with  few  ex- 
ceptions classical  roots  serve  to  express  even  simple  ideas; 
observe  that  although  gospel  has  been  retained,  the  easy 
secondary  words  derived  from  it  have  given  way  to  learn- 
ed formations.  Nor  was  it  only  religious  terms  that 
were  devised  in  this  way;  for  Christianity  brought  with 
it  also  some  acquaintance  with  the  higher  intellectual 
achievements  in  other  domains,  and  we  find  such  scienti- 
fic terms  as  Icece-crceft  ieech-craft'  for  medicine,  tungol-ce 

,  ('star-law')  for  astronomy,  efnniht  for  equinox,  sun-stede 
and  sungihte  for  solstice,  sunfolgend  (sunfollower)  for 
heliotrope,  tid  'tide'  and  gemet  'measure'  for  tense  and 

,  mood  in  grammar,  foresetnes  for  preposition  etc.,  in  short 
a  number  of  scientific  expressions  of  native  origin,  such 
as  is  equalled  among  the  Germanic  languages  in  Icelandic 

46.  If  now  we  ask,  why  did  not  the  Anglo-Saxons  adopt 
more  of  the  ready-made  Latin  or  Greek  words,  it  is  easy 
toseethattheconditions  here  are  quite  different  from  those 
mentioned  above  when  we  asked  a  similar  question  with 
regard  to  Celtic.  There  we  had  a  real  race-mixture,  where 
people  speaking  two  different  languages  were  living  in 
actual  contact  in  the  same  country.  Here  we  have  no 
Latin-speaking  nation  or  community  in  actual  inter- 
course with  the  English;  and  though  we  must  suppose 
that  there  was  a  certain  mouth-to-mouth  influence  from 
missionaries  which  might  familiarize  part  of  the  English 
nation  with  some  of  the  specifically  Christian  words, 
these  were  certainly  at  first  introduced  in  far  greater  num- 
ber through  the  medium  of  writing,  exactly  as  is  the  case 
with  Latin  and  Greek  importations  in  recent  times.   Why, 

Why  not  Foreign  Words?  aj 

then,  do  we  see  such  a  difference  between  the  practice 
of  that  remote  period  and  our  own  time?  One  of  the 
reasons  seems  obviously  to  be  that  people  then  did  not 
know  so  much  Latin  as  they  learnt  later,  so  that  these 
learned  words,  if  introduced,  would  not  have  been  under- 
stood. We  have  it  on  King  Alfred's  authority  that  in  the 
time  immediately  preceding  his  own  reign  'there  were 
very  few  on  this  side  of  the  Humber  who  could  under- 
stand their  (Latin)  rituals  in  English,  or  translate  a 
letter  from  Latin  into  English,  and  I  believe  that  there 
were  not  many  beyond  the  Humber.  There  were  so  few 
of  them  that  I  cannot  remember  a  single  one  south  of 

the  Thames  when  I  came  to  the  throne and  there 

was  also  a  great  multitude  of  God's  servants,  but  they 
had  very  Httle  knowledge  of  the  books,  for  they  could 
not  understand  anything  of  them,  because  they  were 
not  written  in  their  language.'^  And  even  in  the  previous 
period  which  Alfred  regrets,  when  'the  sacred  orders 
were  zealous  in  teaching  and  learning',  and  when,  as  we 
know  from  Bede  and  other  sources,  ^  Latin  and  Greek 
studies  were  pursued  successfully  in  England,  we  may 
be  sure  that  the  percentage  of  those  who  would  have 
understood  the  learned  words,  had  they  been  adopted 
into  English,  was  not  large.  There  was,  therefore,  good 
reason  for  devising  as  many  popular  words  as  possible. 
However,  the  manner  in  which  our  question  was  put  was 
not,  perhaps,  quite  fair,  for  we  seemed  to  presuppose  that 
it  would  be  natural  for  a  nation  to  adopt  as  many  foreign 
terms  as  its  linguistic  digestion  would  admit,  and  that 
it  would  be  matter  for  surprise  if  a  language  had  fewer 

1  King  Alfred's   West -Saxon   Version   of  Gregory's  Pastoral 
Care.     Preface  (Sweet's  translation). 

2  See  T.  N.  Toller,   Outlines   of  the  History   of  the  English 
Language.     Cambridge  1900,  p.  68fif. 

48  in.  Old  English. 

foreign  elements  than  Modern  English.  But  on  the 
contrary,  it  is  rather  the  natural  thing  for  a  language  to 
utilize  its  own  resources  before  drawing  on  other  lan- 
guages. The  Anglo-Saxon  principle  of  adopting  only 
such  words  as  were  easily  assimilated  with  the  native 
vocabulary,  for  the  most  part  names  of  concrete  things, 
and  of  turning  to  the  greatest  possible  account  native 
words  and  roots,  especially  for  abstract  notions,  —  that 
principle  may  be  taken  as  a  symptom  of  a  healthful  con- 
dition of  a  language  and  a  nation;  witness  Greek,  where 
we  have  the  most  flourishing  and  vigorous  growth  of 
abstract  and  other  scientifically  serviceable  terms  on  a 
native  basis  that  the  world  has  ever  seen,  and  where 
the  highest  development  of  intellectual  and  artistic 
activity  went  hand  in  hand  with  the  most  extensive 
creation  of  indigenous  words  and  an  extremely  limited 
importation  of  words  from  abroad.  It  is  not,  then, 
the  Old  English  system  of  utilizing  the  vernacular  stock 
of  words,  but  the  modern  system  of  neglecting  the 
native  and  borrowing  from  a  foreign  vocabulary  that 
'has  to  be  accounted  for  as  something  out  of  the  natural 
state  of  things.  A  particular  case  in  point  will  illustrate 
this  better  than  long  explanations. 

47.  To  express  the  idea  of  a  small  book  that  is  always 
ready  at  hand,  the  Greeks  had  devised  the  word  egkhei- 
ridion  from  en  'in',  kheir  'hand'  and  the  suffix  -idion 
denoting  smallness;  the  Romans  sirhilarly  employed  their 
adjective  manualis  'pertaining  to  manus,  the  hand'  with 
liber  'book'  understood.  What  could  be  more  natural 
then,  than  for  the  Anglo-Saxons  to  frame  according  to 
the  genius  of  their  own  language  the  compound  handboc? 
This  naturally  would  be  especially  applied  to  the  one 
kind  of  handy  books  that  the  clergy  were  in  particular 
need  of,  the  book  containing  the  occasional  and  minor 
public  offices  of  the  Roman  church.    Similar  compounds 



were  used,  and  are  used,  as  a  matter  of  course,  in  the 
other  cognate  languages,  —  German  handbuch,  Danish 
handbog,  etc.  But  in  the  Middle  English  period,  handboc 
was  disused,  the  French  (Latin)  manual  taking  its  place, 
and  in  the  sixteenth  century  the  Greek  word  [enchiridion) 
too  was  introduced  into  the  English  language.  And  so 
accustomed  had  the  nation  grown  to  preferring  strange 
and  exotic  words  that  when  in  the  nineteenth  century 
handbook  made  its  re-appearance  it  was  treated  as 
an  unwelcome  intruder.  The  oldest  example  of  the 
new  use  in  the  NED.  is  from  1814,  when  an  anony- 
mous book  was  published  with  the  title  'A  Handbook 
for  modelling  wax  flowers.'  In  1833  Nicolas  in  the 
preface  to  a  historical  work  wrote  'What  the  Germans 
would  term  and  which,  if  our  language  admitted 
of  the  expression ,  would  have  been  the  fittest  title 
for  it,  'The  Handbook  of  History'  ',  —  but  he  dared 
not  use  that  title  himself.  Three  years  later  Murray 
the  publisher  ventured  to  call  his  guide-book  'A 
Hand  -  Book  for  Travellers  on  the  Continent',  but 
reviewers  as  late  as  1843  apologized  for  copying  this 
coined  word.  In  1838  Rogers  speaks  of  the  word 
as  a  tasteless  innovation,  and  Trench  in  his  'Eng- 
lish Past  and  Present'  (1854;  3rd  ed.  1856  p.  71) 
says,  'we  might  have  been  satisfied  with  'manual',  and 
not  put  together  that  very  ugly  and  very  unnecessary 
word  'handbook',  which  is  scarcely,  I  should  suppose, 
ten  or  fifteen  years  old.'  Of  late  years,  the  word  seems 
to  have  found  more  favour,  but  I  cannot  help  thinking 
that  state  of  language  a  very  unnatural  one  where  such 
a  very  simple,  intelligible,  and  expressive  word  has  to 
fight  its  way  instead  of  being  at  once  admitted  to  the 
very  best  society. 

48.  The  Old  English  language,  then,  was  rich  in  possi- 
bihties,  and  its  speakers  were  fortunate  enough  to  possess 

Jespersbn  :  English.  2nd  ed.  4. 

50  HI.  Old  English. 

a  language  that  might  with  very  little  exertion  on  their 
part  be  made  to  express  everything  that  human  speech 
can  be  called  upon  to  express.  There  can  be  no  doubt 
that  if  the  language  had  been  left  to  itself,  it  would 
easily  have  remedied  the  defects  that  it  certainly  had, 
for  its  resources  were  abundantly  sufficient  to  provide 
natural  and  expressive  terms  even  for  such  a  new  world 
of  concrete  things  and  abstract  ideas  as  Christianity 
meant  to  the  Anglo-Saxons.  It  is  true  that  we  often 
find  Old  English  prose  clumsy  and  unwieldy,  but  that 
is  more  the  fault  of  the  literature  than  of  the  language 
itself.  A  good  prose  style  is  everywhere  a  late  acquire- 
ment, and  the  work  of  whole  generations  of  good  authors 
is  needed  to  bring  about  the  easy  flow  of  written  prose. 
Neither,  perhaps,  were  the  subjects  treated  of  in  the 
extant  Old  English  prose  literature  those  most  suitable 
for  the  development  of  the  highest  literary  qualities. 
But  if  we  look  at  such  a  closely  connected  language 
as  Old  Norse,  we  find  in  that  language  a  rapid 
progress  to  a  narrative  prose  style  which  is  even  now 
justly  admired  in  its  numerous  sagas;  and  I  do  not 
see  so  great  a  difference  between  the  two  languages 
as  would  justify  a  scepticism  with  regard  to  the 
perfectibility  of  Old  English  in  the  same  direction. 
And,  indeed ,  we  have  positive  proof  in  a  few  passages 
that  the  language  had  no  mean  power  as  a  literary 
medium;  I  am  thinking  of  Alfred's  report  of  the 
two  Scandinavian  travellers  Ohthere  and  Wulfstan, 
who  visited  him  —  the  Fridtjof  Nansen  and  Sven 
Hedin  of  those  days  — ,  of  a  few  passages  in  the  Saxon 
Chronicle,  and  especially  of  some  pages  of  the  homilies 
of  Wulfstan,  where  we  find  an  impassioned  prose  of 
real  merit. 

49.   If  Old  English  prose  is  undeveloped,   we  have  a    ; 
very  rich   and   characteristic   poetic   literature,    ranging 

Prose  and  Poetry.  ei 

from  powerful  pictures  of  battles  and  of  fights  with 
mythical  monsters  to  rehgious  poems,  idyllic  descrip- 
tions of  an  ideal  country  and  sad  ones  of  moods  of  me- 
lancholy. It  is  not  here  the  place  to  dwell  upon  the 
literary  merit  of  these  poems,  as  we  are  only  concerned 
with  the  language.  But  to  anyone  who  has  taken  the 
trouble  —  and  it  is  a  trouble  —  to  familiarize  himself 
with  that  poetry,  there  is  a  singular  charm  in  the 
language  it  is  clothed  in,  so  strangely  different  from 
modern  poetic  style.  The  movement  is  slow  and 
leisurely;  the  measure  of  the  verse  does  not  invite  us 
to  hurry  on  rapidly,  but  to  linger  deliberately  on 
each  line  and  pause  before  we  go  on  to  the  next. 
Nor  are  the  poet's  thoughts  too  light-footed;  he  likes 
to  tell  us  the  same  thing  two  or  three  times.  Where 
a  single  he  would  suffice  he  prefers  to  give  a  couple 
of  such  descriptions  as  'the  brave  prince,  the  bright 
hero,  noble  in  war,  eager  and  spirited'  etc.,  descriptions 
which  add  no  new  trait  to  the  mental  picture,  but 
which ,  nevertheless ,  impress  us  artistically  and  work 
upon  our  emotions ,  very  much  like  repetitions  and 
variations  in  music.  These  effects  are  chiefly  produced 
by  heaping  synonym  on  synonym ,  and  the  wealth 
of  synonymous  terms  found  in  Old  English  poetry  is 
really  astonishing,  especially  in  certain  domains,  which 
had  for  centuries  been  the  stock  subjects  of  poetry.  For 
'hero'  or  'prince'  we  find  in  Beowulf  alone  at  least  thirty- 
seven  words  (cedeling.  cescwiga.  aglceca.  headorinc.  heag- 
gyfa.  healdor.  beorn.  brego.  brytta.  byrnwiga.  ceorl.  cniht. 
cyning.  dryhten.  ealdor.  eorl.  ebelweard.  jengel.  frea.  freca. 
fruma.  hceleb.  hlaford.  hyse.  lead.  mecg.  nid.  oretta.  rceswa. 
rinc.  scota.  secg.  ^egn.  jengel.  peoden.  wer.  wiga).  For 
'battle'  or  'fight'  we  have  in  Beowulf  at  least  twelve 
synonyms  (beadu.  gub.  hea^o.  hild.  lindplega.  nid.  orleg. 
rcBs.  sacu.  geslyht.  gewinn.  wig).    Beowulf  has  seventeen 


52  in.  Old  English. 

expressions  for  the  'sea'  (brim.  flod.  garsecg.  hcef.  hea^u? 
holm,  holmwylm.  hronrad.  lagu.  mere,  merestrcet.  see. 
seglrad.  stream,  weed.  wceg.  yp),  to  which  should  be  add- 
ed thirteen  more  from  other  poems  (flodweg.  flodwielm. 
fiot.  flotweg.  holmweg.  hronmere.  mereflod.  merestream. 
sceflod.  sceholm.  scestream.  sceweg.  y]>mere).  For  'ship'  or 
'boat'  we  have  in  Beowulf  eleven  words  (bat.  brenting. 
ceol.  jeer,  flota.  naca.  scebat.  scegenga.  scewudu.  scip.  sund- 
wudu)  and  in  other  poems  at  least  sixteen  more  words 
(brimhengest.  brim^isa.  brimwudu.  cnearr.  flodwudu.  flot- 
scip.  holmmcern.  holmmcegen.  merebat.  merehengest.  mere- 
])yssa.  sceflota.  scehengest.  scemearh.  ypbord.  yphengest. 
y]>hof.  yplid.  yMida). 

50.  How  are  we  to  account  for  this  wealth  of  syno- 
nyms? We  may  subtract,  if  we  like,  such  compound 
words  as  are  only  variations  of  the  same  comparison,  as 
when  a  ship  is  called  a  sea-horse,  and  then  different 
words  for  sea  (see,  mere,  y]>)  are  combined  with  the 
words  hengest  'stallion'  and  mearh  'mare';  but  even  if  , 
this  class  is  not  counted,  the  number  of  synonyms  is 
great  enough  to  call  for  an  explanation.  A  language  ' 
has  always  many  terms  for  those  things  that  interest  the 
speakers  in  their  daily  doings;  thus  Sweet  says:  'if  we 
open  an  Arabic  dictionary  at  random,  we  may  expect 
to  find  something  about  a  camel:  'a  young  camel',  'an 
old  camel',  'a  strong  camel',  'to  feed  a  camel  on  the  1^ 
fifth  day',  'to  feel  a  camel's  hump  to  ascertain  its  fat- 
ness', all  these  being  not  only  simple  words,  but  root- 
words'.^  And  when  we  read  that  the  Araucanians  (in 
Chile)  distinguished  nicely  in  their  languages  between 
a  great  many  shades  of  hunger,  our  compassion  is  ex- 
cited, as  Gabelentz  remarks.^    In  the  case  of  the  Anglo- 

1  Sweet,    The   Practical   Study  of  Language,    1899,  p.  163. 

2  Gabelentz,  Sprachwissenschaft  189,  463.  - 

Synonyms.  ^^ 

Saxons,  however,  the  conclusion  we  are  justified  in 
drawing  from  their  possessing  such  a  great  number  of 
words  connected  with  the  sea  is  not ,  perhaps ,  that 
they  were  a  seafaring  nation,  but  rather,  as  these 
words  are  chiefly  poetical  and  not  used  in  prose ,  that 
the  nation  had  been  seafaring,  but  had  given  up  that 
life  while  reminiscences  of  it  were  still  Hngering  in  their 

51.  In  many  cases  we  are  now  unable  to  see  any 
difference  in  signification  between  two  or  more  words, 
but  in  the  majority  of  these  instances  we  may  assume 
that  even  if,  perhaps,  the  Anglo-Saxons  in  historical 
times  felt  no  difference,  their  ancestors  did  not  use 
them  indiscriminately.  It  is  characteristic  of  primitive 
peoples  that  their  languages  are  highly  speciahzed ,  so 
that  where  we  are  contented  with  one  generic  word 
they  have  several  specific  terms.  The  aborigines  of 
Tasmania  had  a  name  for  each  variety  of  gum-tree 
and  wattle -tree,  etc.,  but  they  had  no  equivalent  for 
the  expression  'a  tree'.  The  Mohicans  have  words 
for  cutting  various  objects,  but  none  to  convey  cutting 
simply.  The  Zulus  have  such  words  as  'red  cow', 
'white  cow',  'brown  cow',  etc.,  but  none  for  'cow' 
generally.  In  Cherokee,  instead  of  one  word  for 
'washing'  we  find  different  words,  according  to  what 
is  washed,  'I  wash  myself,  —  my  head,  —  the  head 
of  somebody  else,  —  my  face,  —  the  face  of  somebody 
else,  —  my  hands  or  feet,  —  my  clothes,  —  dishes,  —  a 
child,  etc.^ 

52.  Very  Httle  has  been  done  hitherto  to  investigate 
the  exact  shades  of  meaning  in  Old  English  words,  but 
I  have  Httle  doubt  that  when  we  now  render  a  number 

I   Cf.   Jespersen,     Progress     in    Language,    London     1894 
p.  250. 

54  in.  Old  English. 

of  words  indiscriminately  by  'sword',  they  meant  origi- 
nally distinct  kinds  of  swords,  and  so  in  other  cases  as 
well.  With  regard  to  washing,  we  find  something  corre- 
sponding, though  in  a  lesser  degree,  to  the  exuberance  of 
Cherokee,  for  we  have  two  words,  wacsan  (wascan)  and 
iwean,  and  if  we  go  through  all  the  examples  given  in 
Bosworth  and  Toller's  Dictionary,  we  find  that  the  latter 
word  is  always  applied  to  the  washing  of  persons  (hands, 
feet,  etc.),  never  to  inanimate  objects,  while  wascan 
is  used  especially  of  the  washing  of  clothes,  but 
also  of  sheep ,  of  'the  inwards'  (of  the  victim, 
Leviticus  I,  9  and  13^).  Observe  also  that  wascan  was 
originally  only  used  in  the  present  tense  (as  Kluge  infers 
from  -sk-) ,  —  a  clear  instance  of  that  restriction  in 
the  use  of  words  which  is  so  common  in  the  old  stages 
of  the  language,  but  which  so  often  appears  unnatural 
to  us. 

53.  The  old  poetic  language  on  the  whole  showed  a 
great  many  divergences  from  everyday  prose,  in  the 
choice  of  words,  in  the  word  forms,  and  also  in  the  con- 
struction of  the  sentences.  This  should  not  surprise  us, 
for  we  find  the  same  thing  everywhere,  and  the  differ- 
ence between  the  dictions  of  poetry  and  of  prose  is 
perhaps  greater  in  old  or  more  primitive  languages  than 
in  those  most  highly  developed.  In  English,  certainly, 
the  distance  between  poetical  and  prose  language  was 
much  greater  in  this  first  period  than  it  has  ever  been 
since.     The  poetical  language  seems  to  have  been  to  a 

I  In  a  late  text  (R.  Ben.  59,  7)  we  find  the  contrast  agtier 
ge  fata  Jjwean,  ge  wcBterclacias  wascan,  which  does  not 
agree  exactly  with  the  distinction  made  above,  —  Curiously 
enough,  in  Old  Norse,  vaska  is  in  the  Sagas  used  only  of 
washing  the  head  with  some  kind  of  soap.  In  Danish,  as 
well  as  in  English,  vaske,  wash,  is  now  the  only  word  in 
actual  use. 

Language  of  Poetry.  55 

certain  extent  identical  all  over  England,  regardless  of 
dialect  differences  shown  in  prose  writings.  King  Alfred's 
prose  is  always  distinctly  West  Saxon,  but  when  he 
breaks  out  occasionally  into  poetry,  he  uses  such  forms 
as  the  preterite  heht,  instead  of  het,  the  only  form  found 
in  his  prose.  We  have  such  more  or  less  artificial  poetic 
dialects,  which  agree  with  no  one  of  the  actually  spoken 
dialects,  in  Homeric  Greek  and  elsewhere,  for  example 
in  the  Old  Saxon  Heliand  according  to  H.  CoUitz.^  The, 
hypothesis  of  a  poetical  language  of  this  kind,  absorbing  ' 
forms  and  words  from  the  different  parts  of  the  country 
where  poetry  was  composed  at  all,  seems  to  me  to  offer 
a  better  explanation  of  the  facts  than  the  current  theory, 
according  to  which  the  bulk  of  Old  English  poetry  was 
written  at  first  in  Northumbrian  dialect  and  later 
translated  into  West-Saxon  with  some  of  the  old 
Anglian  forms  kept  inadvertently  —  and  translated 
to  such  an  extent  that  no  trace  of  the  originals 
should  have  been  preserved.  The  very  few  and  short 
pieces  extant  in  old  Northumbrian  dialect  are  easily 
accounted  for,  even  if  we  accept  the  theory  of  a 
poetical  koine  or  standard  language  prevailing  in  the 
time  when  Old  English  poetry  flourished.  But  the  whole 
question  should  be  taken  up  by  a  more  competent  hand 
than  mine. 

54.  The  external  form  of  Old  English  poetry  was  in 
the  main  the  same  as  that  of  Old  Norse,  Old  Saxon, 
and  Old  High  German  poetry;  besides  definite  rules  of 
stress  and  quantity,  which  were  more  regular  than  might 
at  first  appear,  but  which  were  not  so  strict  as  those  of 
classical  poetry,  the  chief  words  of  each  line  were  tied 

I  TAe  Home  of  the  Heliand;  Publications  of  the  Modern  Lan- 
guage Association  of  America,  Vol.  XVI,  p.  I23fr.  See  also  Bauer's 
Waldeckisches  Worterbuch,  1901,  p.  91*  ff. 

^6  ni.  Old  English. 

together  by  alliteration,  that  is,  they  began  with  the 
same  sound,  or,  in  the  case  of  sp,  st,  sc,  with  the  same 
sound  group.  The  effect  is  peculiar,  and  may  be  appre- 
ciated in  such  a  passage  as  this: 

Him  pa  ellenrof    andswarode, 
wlanc  Wedera  leod,     word  aefter  spraec, 
heard  under  helme:     'We  synt  Higelaces 
beod-geneatas,     Beowulf  is  min  nama. 
Wille  ic  a-secgan     suna  Halfdenes, 
maerum  peodne     min  aerende, 
aldre  ]7inum     gif  he  us  geunnan  wile, 
]73et  we  hine  swa  godne     gretan  mot  on.' 
Wulfgar  ma]7elode,     Ipaet  waes  Wendla  leod, 
waes  his  mod-sefa     manegum  gecy^ed, 
wig  ond  wisdom.     'Ic  ]7ses  wine  Deniga, 
frean  Scildinga,     frinan  wille, 
beaga  bryttan,     swa  ]7u  bena  eart, 
]7eoden  maerne     ymb  ]7inne  sid.^ 

55.  Very  rarely,  combined  with  alliteration  we  fird  a 
sort  of  rime  or  assonance.  In  the  prose  of  the  last 
period  of  Old  English  the  same  artistic  means  were  often 
resorted  to  to  heighten  the  effect,  and  we  find  in  Wulf- 
stan's  homilies  such  passages  as  the  following  where  all 
tricks  of  phonetic  harmony  are  brought  into  play:  'in 
mordre  and  on  mane,  in  susle  and  on  sare,  in  wean 
and  on  wyrmslitum  betweonan  deadum  and  deoflum, 
in  bryne  and  on  biternesse,  in  bealewe  and  on  bra- 
dum  ligge,  in  yrm]?um  and  on  earfe^um,  on  swyltcwale 
and  sarum  sorgum,  in  fyrenum  bryne  and  on  ful- 
nesse,  in  to^a  gristbitum  and  in  tintegrum'  or  again 
*)>aer  is  ece  ece  and  J^aer  is  sorgung  and  sargung, 
and  a  singal  heof ;  ^aer  is  benda  bite  and  dynta  dyne, 
)?aer  is  wyrma  slite  and  ealra  wsedla  gripe,  ]>xr  is  wanung 

I  Beowult  340  fif. 

Alliteration.  cj 

and   granung,    J?aer   is   yrm^a    gehwylc  and  ealra  deofla 
gearing'. 1 

56.  Nor  has  this  love  of  alliterative  word-combinations 
ever  left  the  language;  we  find  it  very  often  in  n^odern 
poetry,  where  however  it  is  always  subordinate  to  end 
rime,  and  we  find  it  in  such  stock  phrases  as  — :  it  can 
neither  make  nor  war  me,  as  ^usy  as  ^ees  (Chaucer, 
E  2422),  /?art  and  parcel,  /aint  and  feeble,  chucks  and 
brakes  (sometimes:  play  dick-duck-drake;  Stevenson, 
Merry  Men  277),  what  ain't  missed  ain't  mourned  (Pinero, 
Magistrate  5),  as  ^old  as  ^rass,  free  and  /ranke  (Caxton, 
Reynard  41),  Barnes  are  Messings  (Shakesp.,  All's  I.  3.  28), 
as  ^ool  as  a  cucumber,  as  5^ill  as  (a)  stone  (Chaucer, 
E  121,  as  any  stoon  E  171,  he  stode  stone  style,  Malory 
145),  over  stile  and  stone  (Chaucer  B  1988),  from  top  to 
^06  (from  the  top  to  toe,  Shakesp.  R  3  III.  i.  155),  7;nght 
and  main,  fuss  and  /ume,  manners  makyth  man,  rare 
billed  a  rat,  rack  and  ruin,  nature  and  nurture  (Shakesp. 
Tp.  IV.  I.  189;  English  Men  of  Science,  their  Nature 
and  Nurture,  the  title  of  a  book  by  Galton),  etc.  etc., 
even  to  Thackeray's  'faint  fashionable  fiddle-faddle  and 
feeble  court  slipslop'.  Alliteration  sometimes  modifies 
the  meaning  of  a  word,  as  when  we  apply  chick  to  human f- 
offspring  in  'no  chick  or  child',  or  when  we  say  'a  labour 
of  love',  without  giving  to  labour  the  shade  of  meaning* 
which  it  generally  has  as  different  from  work.  The  word'  ' 
foe,  too,  which  is  generally  used  in  poetry  or  archaic 
prose  only,  is  often  used  in  ordinary  prose  for  the  sake 
of  aUitcration  in  connexion  with  /riend  ('Was  it  an  ir- 
ruption of  a  friend  or  a  foe.?'  Meredith,  Egoist  439;  'The 
Danes  of  Ireland  had  changed  from  foes  to  friends', 
Green,   Short  Hist.   107).      Indeed  alHteration  comes  so 

I  Wulfstan,  Homilies,  ed.  by  Napier,  p.  187,  209.  It  is 
worthy  of  note  that  these  poetical  flights  occur  in  descriptions 
of  hell. 

58  III.  Old  English. 

natural  to  English  people,  that  Tennyson  says  that 
'when  I  spout  my  lines  first,  they  come  out  so  allitera- 
tively  that  I  have  sometimes  no  end  of  trouble  to  get 
rid  of  the  alliteration'.^  I  take  up  the  thread  of  my  narra- 
tive after  this  short  digression. 

I  Life,  by  his  Son,  Tauchn.  ed.  II.  285.  Cf.  R.  L.  Stevenson, 
The  Art  of  Writing  31,  and  what  the  Danish  poet  and  metricist 
E.  V.  d.  Recke  says  to  the  same  effect,  Principernefor  den  danske 
verskunst  1881,  p.  112;  see  also  the  amusing  note  by  De  Quincey, 
Opium  Eater  p.  95  (Macmillan's  Library  of  Eng.  Classics):  'Some 
people  are  irritated,  or  even  fancy  themselves  insulted,  by  overt 
acts  of  alliteration,  as  many  people  are  by  puns.  On  their 
account  let  me  say,  that,  although  there  are  here  eight  separate 
f's  in  less  than  half  a  sentence,  this  is  to  be  held  as  pure  accident. 
In  fact,  at  one  time  there  were  nine  fs  in  the  original  cast  of 
the  sentence,  until  I,  in  pity  of  the  affronted  people,  substituted 
fe?na/e  agent  for  female  friend.'  The  reader  need  not  be  re- 
minded of  the  excessive  use  of  alliteration  in  Euphuism  and  of 
Shakespeare's  satire  in  Love's  Labour's  Lost  and  Midsufmner 
Night's  Dream. 

Chapter  IV. 

The  Scandinavians. 

57.  The  Old  English  language,  as  we  have  seen,  was 
essentially  self-sufficing;  its  foreign  elements  were  few 
and  did  not  modify  the  character  of  the  language  as  a 
whole.  But  we  shall  now  consider  three  very  important 
factors  in  the  development  of  the  language,  three  super- 
structures, as  it  were,  that  came  to  be  erected  on  the 
Anglo-Saxon  foundation,  each  of  them  modifying  the 
character  of  the  language,  and  each  preparing  the  ground 
for  its  successor.  A  Scandinavian  element,  a  French 
element,  and  a  Latin  element  now  enter  largely  into  the 
texture  of  the  English  language,  and  as  each  element  is 
characteristically  different  from  the  others,  we  shall 
treat  them  separately.  First,  then,  the  Scandinavian 

I  The  chief  works  on  these  loan-words,  most  of  them  treat- 
ing nearly  exclusively  phonetic  questions,  are:  Erik  Bjorkman, 
Scandinavian  Loa7i-Wo7'ds  in  Middle  English  (Halle  I  1900, 
II  1902),  an  excellent  book;  Erik  Brate,  No7dische  Lehnworter 
im  Orrmulum  (Beitrage  zur  Gesch.  d.  deutschen  Sprache  X, 
Halle  1884);  Arnold  Wall,  A  Contribution  towards  the  Study 
of  the  Scandinavia?i  Ele??ieJit  in  the  English  Dialects  (Anglia  XX, 
Halle  1 8 98);  G.  T  Flom,  Scandinavian  Influence  on  Southern 
Lowland  Scotch  (New  York,  1900).  The  dialectal  material  of 
the  two  last -mentioned  treatises  is  necessarily  to  a  great  extent 
of  a  doubtful  character.  See  also  Kluge  in  Paul's  GrunariSs  d. 
germ.  Philol.  2nd  ed.  p.  931  ff.  (Strassburg  1899J,  Skeat,  Principles 

5o  IV.  The  Scandinavians. 

58.  The  EngHsh  had  resided  for  about  four'  centuries 
in  the  country  called  after  them,  and  during  that  time 
they  had  had  no  enemies  from  abroad.  The  only  wars 
they  had  been  engaged  in  were  internal  struggles  be- 
tween kingdoms  belonging  to,  but  not  yet  feeling  them- 
selves  as  one  and  the  same  nation.  ^The  Danes  were  to 
them  not  deadly  enemies  but  a  brave  nation  from  over 
the  sea,  that  they  felt  to  be  of  a  kindred  race  with  them- 
selves. The  peaceful  relations  between  the  two  nations 
may  have  been  more  intimate  than  is  now  generally 
supposed.  Fresh  light  seems  to  be  thrown  on  the  sub- 
ject by  the  theory  that  an  interesting,  but  hitherto 
mysterious  Old  English  poem  which  is  generally  ascribed 
to  the  eighth  century  is  a  translation  of  a  lost  Scan- 
dinavian poem  dealing  with  an  incident  in  what  was 
later  to  become  the  Volsunga  Saga.^  This  would  establish 
a  literary  intercourse  between  England  and  Scandinavia 
previous  to  the  Viking  ages,  and  therefor^  would  accord 
with  the  fact  that  the  old  Danish  legends  about 
'King  Hrothgar  and  his  beautiful  hall  Heorot'^were  pre- 
served in  England,  even  more  faithfully  than  by  the  Danes 
themselves.  Had  the  poet  of  Beowulf  been  able  to 
foresee  all  that  his  countrymen  werfi-deatiiied  to  suffer 
atJJifiJiands  of  the  Danes,  he  would  have  chosen  another 

subject  for  his  great  epic,  and  we  should  have  missed 
the  earliest  noble  outcome  of  the  sympathy  so  often 
displayed  by  Englishmen  for  the  fortunes  of  Denmark. 

of  English  Etymology  p.  453 fif.  (Oxford  1887),  and  some  other 
works  mentioned  below.  I  have  excluded  doubtful  material;  but 
a  few  of  the  words  I  give  as  Scandinavian,  have  been  considered 
as  native  by  other  writers.  In  most  cases  I  have  been  convinced 
by  the  reasons  given  by  Bjorkman. 

1  W.  W.  Lawrence,  The  First  Riddle  ofCyneiuulf;  W.  H.  Scho- 
field,  Signy's  Lament.  (Publications  of  the  Modem  Language 
Association  of  America,  vol,  XVII.  Baltimore  1902.) 

Vikings.  6 1 

But  as  it  is,  in  Beowulf  no  coming  events  cast  their 
shadow  before,  and  the  English  nation  seems  to  have 
been  taken  entirely  by  surprise  when  about  790  the 
I  long  series  of  inroads  began,  in  which  'Danes'  and  'hea- 
V^thens'  became  synonyms  for  murderers  and  plunderers. 
At  first  the  strangers  came  in  small  troops  and  disap- 
peared as  soon  as  they  had  filled  their  boats  with  gold 
and  other  valuables;  but  from  the  middle  of  the  ninth 
century,  'the  character  of  the  attack  wholly  changed. 
The  petty  squadrons  which  had  till  now  harassed  the 
coast  of  Britain  made  way  for  larger  hosts  than  had  as 
yet  fallen  on  any  country  in  the  west;  while  raid  and 
foray  were  replaced  by  the  regular  campaign  of  armies 
who  marched  to  conquer,  and  whose  aim  was  to  settle 
on  the  land  they  won'.^  Battles  were  fought  with  various 
success,  but  on  the  whole  the  Scandinavians  proved  the 
stronger  race  and  made  good  their  footing  in  their  new 
country.  In  the  peace  of  Wedmore  (878),  King  Alfred, 
the  noblest  and  staunchest  defender  of  his  native  soil, 
was  fain  to  leave  them  about  two-thirds  of  what  we  now 
call  England;  all  Northumbria,  all  East  Anglia  and  one 
half  of  Central  England  made  out  the  district  called  the 

59.  Still,  the  relations  between  the  two  races  were  ■ 
not  altogether  hostile.  King  Alfred  not  only  effected 
the  repulse  of  the  Danes;  he  also  gave  us  the  first  geo- 
graphical description  of  the  countries  that  the  fierce  in- 
vaders came  from,  in  the  passage  already  referred  to 
(§  48).  Under  the  year  959,  one  of  the  chroniclers  says 
of  the  Northumbrian  king  that  he  was  widely  revered 
on  account  of  his  piety,  but  in  one  respect  he  was 
blamed :  'he  loved  foreign  vices  too  much  and  gave  heathen 


I  J.  R.  Green,  A  Short  History  of  the  Engl.  People,  Illustr. 
ed.  p.  87. 

62  IV.  The  Scandinavians. 

(i.  e.  Danish)  customs  a  firm  footing  in  this  country, 
alluring  mischievous  foreigners  to  come  to  this  land.' 
And  in  the  only  extant  private  letter  in  Old  English^ 
the  unknown  correspondent  tells  his  brother  Edward 
that  'it  is  a  shame  for  all  of  you  to  give  up  the  English 
customs  of  your  fathers  and  to  prefer  the  customs  of 
heathen  men,  who  grudge  you  your  very  life;  you  show 
thereby  that  you  despise  your  race  and  your  forefathers 
with  these  bad  habits,  when  you  dress  shamefully  in 
Danish  wise  with  bared  neck  and  blinded  eyes'  (with 
,  hair  falling  over  the  eyes.?).  We  see,  then,  that  the 
English  were  ready  to  learn  from,  as  well  as  to  fight  wnth 
the  Danes.  It  is  a  small,  but  significant  fact  that  in  the 
glorious  patriotic  war-poem  written  shortly  after  the 
battle  of  Maldon  (993)  which  it  celebrates,  we  find  for 
the  first  time  one  of  the  most  important  Scandinavian 
loan-words,  to  call]  this  shuais-iiaw:  early  the  linguistic 
influence  of  the  Danes  began  to  be  felt. 

60.  A  great  number  of  Scandinavian  families  settled 
in  England  never  to  return,  especially  in  Norfolk,  Suffolk 
and  Lincolnshire,  but  also  in  Yorkshire,  Northumber- 
land, Cumberland,  Westmoreland,  etc.  Numerous  names 
of  places,  ending  in-^y,  -thorp  (-torp),  -beck,  -dale,  -thwaite, 
etc.,  bear  witness  to  the  preponderance  of  the  invaders 
in  great  parts  of  England,  as  do  also  many  names  of  per- 
sons found  in  English  from  about  1000  a.  d.^  But  these 
foreigners  were  not  felt  by  the  natives  to  be  foreigners 
in  the  same  manner  as  the  English  themselves  had  been 
looked  upon  as  foreigners  by  the  Celts.  As  Green  has  it, 
'when  the  wild  burst  of  the  storm  was  over,  land,  people, 
government   reappeared   unchanged.      England   still  re- 

1  Edited  by  Kluge,  Engl.  Studien  VIII,  62. 

2  Bjorkman,    Nordische   Personennamen    in   England  (Halle 
19 10). 

Danish  Settlements. 


mained  England;  the  conquerors  sank  quietly  into  the 
mass  of  those  around  them;  and  Woden  yielded  without 

'  a  struggle  tQ^Christ.  The  secret  of  this  difference  be- 
tween the  two  invasions  was  that  the  battle  was  no 
longer  between  men  of  different  races.  It  was  no  longer 
a  fight  between  Briton  and  German,  between  English- 
man and  Welshman.  The  life  of  these  northern  folk  was 
in  the  main  the  life  of  the  earlier  Englishmen.  Their 
customs,  their  religion,  their  social  order  were  the  same; 
they  were  in  fact  kinsmen  bringing  back  to  an  England 
that  had  forgotten  its  origins  the  barbaric  England  of 
its  pirate  forefathers.  Nowhere  over  Europe  was  the 
fight  so  fierce,  because  nowhere  else  were  the  combatants 
men  of  one  blood  and  one  speech.   But  just  for  this  reason 

^the  fusion  of  the  northmen  with  their  foes  was  nowhere 
so  peaceful  and  so  complete.'^  — "^t  should  be  remem- 
bered ,  too ,  that  it  was  a  Dane,  King  Knut  who 
achieved  what  every  English  ruler  had  failed  to  achieve, 
the  union  of  the  whole  of  England  into  one  peaceful 
realm.  ) 

61.  King  Knut  was  a  Dane,  and  in  the  Saxon  Chron- 
icle the  invaders  were  always  called  Danes,  but  from 
other  sources  we  know  that  there  were  Norwegians  too 
among  the  settlers.  Attempts  have  been  made  to  de- 
cide by  linguistic  tests  which  of  the  two  nations  had  the 
greater   influence    in    England^,    a    question   beset   with 

1  J.  R.  Green,  A  Short  History  of  the  E.  People,  Illustr.  ed. 
p.  84. 

2  Brate  thought  the  loan-words  exclusively  Danish;  Kluge, 
Wall,  and  Bjorkman  consider  some  of  them  Danish,  others 
Norwegian,  though  in  details  they  arrive  at  different  results. 
See  Bjorkman,  Zur  dialektischen  provenienz  der  nordischen 
lehnwdrter  im  Englischen,  Sprakvetensk.  sallskapets  for- 
handlingar  1898 — 1901 ,  Upsala,  and  his  Scand.  Loan -Words 
p.  281  ff. 


IV.  The  Scandinavians. 

considerable  difficulties  and  which  need  not  detain  us' 
here.  Suffice  it  to  say  that  some  words,  such  as  ME.  boun, 
Mod.  bound  'ready'  (to  go  to),  busk,  boon,  addle,  point 
rather  to  a  Norwegian  origin,  while  others,  such  as  -by 
in  place-names,  die  (>),  booth,  drown,  ME.  sum  'as', 
agree  better  with  Danish  forms.  In  the  great  majority 
of  cases,  however,  the  Danish  and  Norwegian  forms  were 
at  that  time  either  completely  or  nearly  identical,  so 
that  no  decision  as  to  the  special  homeland  of  the  Eng- 
lish loans  is  warranted.  In  the  present  work  I  there- 
fore leave  the  question  open,  quoting  Danish  or  ON 
(Old  Norse,  practically  =  Old  Icelandic)  forms  according 
as  it  is  most  convenient  in  each  case,  meaning  simply 

62.  In  order  rightly  to  estimate  the  Scandinavian  in- 
fluence it  is  very  important  to  remember  how  great  the 

Simijarity  w?^s  hp^w^^^    ^^^'^    ^^iglj^l^   ?^^    ^'^^    ^(^rfiP       To 

those  who  know  only  modern  English  and  modern  Danish, 
this  resemblance  is  greatly  obscured,  first  on  account  of 
the  dissimilarities^  that  are  unavoidable  when  two 
nations  live  for  nearly  one  thousand  years  with  very 
little  intercommunication,  and  when  there  is,  accordingly, 
nothing  to  counterbalance  the  natural  tendency  towards  ' 
differentiation,  and  secondly  on  account  of  a  powerful 
foreign  influence  to  which  each  nation  has  in  the  mean-  i 
time  been  subjected,  English  from  French,  and  Danish  | 
from  Low  German.  But  even  now  we  can  see  the  essen- 
tial conformity  between  the  two  languages,  which  in  I 
those  times  was  so  -  much  greater  as  each  stood  so  much 
nearer   to   the   common  source.      An   enormous   number 

I  Bjorkman's  final  words  are:  'These  facts  would  seem  to 
point  to  the  conclusion  that  a  considerable  number  of  Danes 
were  found  everywhere  in  the  Scandinavian  settlements,  while 
the  existence  in  great  numbers  of  Norwegians  was  confined  to 
certain  definite  districts.' 

Similarities.  65 

of  words  were  then  identical  in  the  two  languages,  so 
that  we  should  now  have  been  utterly  unable  to  tell 
which  language  they  had  come  from,  if  we  had  had  no 
English  literature  before  the  invasion;  nouns  such  as 
man,  wife,  father,  mother,  folk,  house,  thing,  life,  sor- 
row, winter,  summer,  verbs  like  will,  can,  meet,  come, 
bring,  hear,  see,  think,  smile,  ride,  stand,  still,  sit,  set, 
adjectives  and  adverbs  Hke  full,  wise,  well,  better,  best, 
mine  and  thine,  over  and  under,  etc.  etc.  The  conse- 
quence was  that  an  Englishman  would  have  no  great 
difficulty  in  understanding  a  viking,  nay  we  have  posi- 
tive evidence  that  Norse  people  looked  upon  the  Eng- 
lish language  as  one  with  their  own.  In  many  cases, 
however,  the  words  were  already  so  dissimilar  that  it 
offers  no  difficulty  to  distinguish  them,  for  instance, 
when  they  contained  an  original  ai,  which  in  OE.  had 
become  long  a  (OE.  swan  =  ON.  sveinn),  or  au,  which 
in  OE.  had  become  ea  (OE.  leas  =  ON.  lauss,  louss), 
or  sk,  which  in  English  became  sh  (OE.  scyrte,  now  shirt 
=  ON.  skyrta). 

63.  But  there  are,  of  course,  many  words  to  which 
no  such  reliable  criteria  apply,  and  the  difficulty  in  de- 
ciding the  origin  of  words  is  further  complicated  by  the 
fact  that  the  English  would-oftf^n  modify  n  word,  when 
adoptingjt,  according  to  somejiiore  or  less^  vague  feel- 
ing of  the  English  sound  that  corresponded  generally  to 
this  or  that  Scandinavian  sound.  Just  as  the  name  of 
the  English  king  ^delred  Eadgares  sunu  is  mentioned 
in  the  Norse  saga  of  Gunnlaugr  Ormstunga,  as  A^alra^r 
Jatgeirsson,  in  the  same  manner  shift  is  an  Anglicized 
form  of  Norse  skipta^;  ON.  brudlaup  'wedding'  was  modi- 
fied into  hrydlop  (cf.  OE.  bryd  'bride';  a  consistent  AngH- 
cizing  would  be  hrydhleap) ;  tidende  is  unchanged  in  Orrms 

I  In  ME.  forms  with  sk  are  also  found;  Bjorkman  p.  126. 

Jespersen:  English,    and  ed.  5 

56  IV.  The  Scandinavians. 

ti^ennde,  but  was  generally  changed  into  tiding (s),  cf. 
OE.  tid  and  the  common  Eng.  ending  -ing;  ON.  ijdnusta 
'service'  appears  as  ])eonest,  Jjenest,  and  J)egnest;  ON. 
words  with  the  negative  prefix  u  are  made  into  English 
wn-,  e.  g.  untime  'unseasonableness',  unbain  (ON.  ubeinn) 
'not  ready',  unrad  or  unrcsd  'bad  counsel'^;  cf.  also  wcepna- 
getcBc  below,  and  others. 

]  64.  Sometimes  the  Scandinavians  gave  a  fresh  lease 
'  of  life  to  obsolescent  or  obsolete  native  words.  The  pre- 
pngifinn  j^  for  instance,  is  found  only  once  or  twice 
in  OE.  texts  belonging  to  the  pre-Scandinavian  period, 
but  after  that  time  it  begins  to  be  exceedingly  common 
in  the  North,  from  whence  it  spreads  southward;  it  was 
used  as  in  Danish  with  regard  both  to  time  and  space 
and  it  is  still  so  used  in  Scotch.  Similarly  ^<2^^  (OE.  dcel) 
'appears  to  have  been  reinforced  from  Norse  (dal), 
for  it  is  in  the  North  that  the  word  is  a  living 
geographical  name'  (NED.) ,  and  barn,  Scotch  bairn 
(OE.  beam)  would  probably  have  disappeared  in  the 
North,  as  it  did  in  the  South,  if  it  had  not  been 
strengthened  by  the  Scandinavian  word.  The  verb 
blend y  too,  seems  to  owe  its  vitality  (as  well  as  its 
vowel)  to  Old  Norse ,  for  blandan  was  very  rare  in  Old 

65.  We  also  see  in  England  a  phenomenon,  which,  I 
think,  is  paralleled  nowhere  else  to  such  an  extent, 
namely  the  existence  side  by  side  for  a  long  time, 
sometimes  for  centuries,  of  two  slightly  differing  forms 
for  the  same  word,  one  the  original  English  form  and 
the  other  Scandinavian.  In  the  following  the  first 
form  is  the  native  one,  the  form  after  the  dash  the 
imported  one. 

I  Though  the  Scand.  form   is  also  found  in  a  few  instances  i 
oulist  'listless',  oumautin  'swoon'. 

Parallel  Forms. 


66.  In  some  cases  both  forms  survive  in  standard 
speech,  though,  as  a  rule,  they  have  developed  slightly 
different  meanings:  whole  (formerly  hool)  —  hale]  both 
were  united  in  the  old  phrase  'hail  and  hool'  |  no  —  nay\ 
the  latter  is  now  used  only  to  add  an  amplifying  remark 
('it  is  enough,  nay  too  much'),  but  formerly  it  was  used 
to  answer  a  question,  though  it  was  not  so  strong  a  neg- 
ative as  no  ('Is  it  true?  Nay/  'Is  it  not  true?  No')  | 
rear  —  raise  \  from  —  fro,  now  used  only  in  'to  and  fro'  | 
shirt  —  skirt  \  shot  —  scot  \  shriek  —  screak,  screech  \  edge 
—  ^gg  vb.  (to  egg  on,  'to  incite').  OE.  leas  survives 
only  in  the  suffix  -less  (nameless,  etc.),  while  the  Scand. 
loose  has  entirely  supplanted  it  as  an  independent  word. 

67.  In  other  cases,  the  Scandinavian  form  survives  in 
dialects  only,  while  the  other  belongs  to  the  literary 
language:  dew  —  dag  'dew,  thin  rain;  vb.  to  drizzle'  | 
true  —  trigg  'faithful,  neat,  tidy'  |  leap  —  loup  \  neat  — 
nowt  'cattle'  |  church  —  kirk^  \  churn  —  kirn^  \  chest  — 
kist^  I  mouth  —  mun  \  yard  —  garth  *a  small  piece  of  en- 
closed ground'.  All  these  dialectal  forms  belong  to  Scot- 
land or  the  North  of  England. 

68.  As  a  rule,  however,  one  of  the  forms  has  in  course 
of  time  been  completely  crowded  out  by  the  other. 
The  surviving  form  is  often  the  native  form,  as  in  the 
following  instances :  goat  —  gayte  \  heathen  —  heythen, 
haithen  \  loath  —  laith  \  grey  —  gra,  gro  \  few  —  fa,  fo 
ash(es)  —  ask  \  fish  —  fisk  \  naked  —  naken  \  yarn  —  gam 
bench  —  bennk  \  star  —  sterne  \  worse  —  werre.  Simil- 
arly the  Scand.  thethen,  hethen,  hwethen  are  generally 
supposed  to  have  been  discarded  in  favour  of  the  native 
forms,  OE.  ^anon,  heonan,  hwanon,  to  which  was  added 
an  adverbial  s:  thence,  hence,  whence-,  but  in  reality  these 
modern  forms  seem  to  be  due  to  the  Scandinavian  ones, 

1  These  >&-words  are,  however,  subject  to  some  doubt. 


58  IV.  The  Scandinavians. 

,  whose  vowels  they  keep;  for  the  loss  of  th  cf.  since  from 
^sithence  (sithens,  OE.  si])j)an  +  s)^ 

I  69.  This  then  leads  us  on  to  those  instances  in  which 
the  intruder  succeeded  in  ousting  the  legitimate  heir. 
Caxton  in  a  well-known  passage  gives  us  a  graphic  des- 
cription of  the  struggle  between  the  native  ey  and  the 
Scandinavian  egg: 

And  certaynly  our  langage  now  used  varyeth  ferre 
from  that  whiche  was  used  and  spoken  whan  I  was 
borne.  For  we  englysshe  men  ben  borne  under  the 
domynacyon  of  the  mone,  whiche  is  never  stedfaste, 
but  ever  waverynge,  wexynge  one  season,  and  waneth 
&  dyscreaseth  another  season.  And  that  comyn  eng- 
lysshe that  is  spoken  in  one  shyre  varyeth  from  a 
nother.  In  so  moche  that  in  my  dayes  happened  that 
certayn  marchauntes  were  in  a  shippe  in  tamyse,  for 
to  have  sayled  over  the  see  into  zelande.  And  for 
lacke  of  wynde,  thei  taryed  atte  forlond,  and  wente 
to  lande  for  to  refreshe  them.  And  one  of  theym 
named  sheffelde,^  a  mercer,  cam  in-to  an  hows  and 
axed  for  mete;  and  specyally  he  axyd  after  eggys. 
And  the  goode  wyf  answerde,  that  she  coude  speke 
no  frenshe.  And  the  marchaunt  was  angry,  for  he 
also  coude  speke  no  frenshe,  but  wolde  have  hadde 
egges,  and  she  understode  hym  not.  And  thenne  at 
laste  a  nother  sayd  that  he  wolde  have  eyren.  Then 
the  good  wyf  sayd  that  she  understod  hym  wel.  Loo, 
what  sholde  a  man  in  thyse  dayes  now  wryte,  egges 
or  eyren.  Certaynly  it  is  harde  to  playse  every  man, 
by  cause  of  dyversite  &  chaunge  of  langage.* 

Very  soon   after   this   was   written,    the   old    English 
forms  ey,  eyren  finally  went  out  of  use. 

1  Probably  a  north. country  man. 

2  Caxton's  Efieydos,  p.  2  —  3.    (E.  E.  T,  S.    Extra  Series  57. 

Native  Words  Discarded.  59 

70.  Among  other  word-pairs  similarly  fated  may  be 
mentioned:  OE.  a,  ME.  0  'ever'  —  ay  (both  were  found 
together  in  the  frequent  phrase  'for  ay  and  00')  |  tho  (cf. 
those)  —  they  \  theigh,  thah,  theh  and  other  forms  —  though  \ 
swon  —  swain  (boatswain,  etc.)  |  tbirde  —  hirth  \  eie  — 
awe  I  Mnresdcei  —  Thursday  \  in  (on)  I>e  lijte  —  on  lofte, 
now  aloft  I  swuster  —  sister  \  chetel  —  kettle;  and  finally 
not  a  few  words  with  English  y  over  against  Scand.  g: 
yete  —  get  \  yeme  'care,  heed'  —  goni(e),  dialectal  gaum 
'sense,  wit,  tact'  |  yelde  —  guild  'fraternity,  association'  |. 
yive  or  yeve  —  give  \  yift  —  gift.  In  this  last- mentioned 
word  gift,  not  only  is  the  initial  sound  due  to  Scandi- 
navian, but  also  the  modern  meaning,  for  the  Old  Eng- 
lish word  meant  'the  price  paid  by  a  suitor  in  consider- 
ation of  receiving  a  woman  to  wife'  and  in  the  plural 
'marriage,  wedding'.  No  subtler  linguistic  influence  can 
be  imagined  than  this,  where  a  word  has  been  modified 
both  with  regard  to  pronunciation  and  meaning,  and 
curiously  enough  has  by  that  process  been  brought 
nearer  to  the  verb  from  which  it  was  originally  derived 

71.  In  some  words  the  old  native  form  has  survived, 
but  has  adopted  the  signification  attached  in  Scandi- 
navian to  the  corresponding  word;  thus  dream  in  OE. 
meant  'joy',  but  in  ME.  the  modern  meaning  of  'dream' 
was  taken  over  from  ON.  draumr,  Dan.  drom;  analogous 
cases  are  bread  (OE.  bread  'fragment'),  bloom  (OE.  bloma 
'mass  of  metal').  In  one  word,  this  same  process  of  sense- 
shifting  has  historical  significance;  the  OE.  eorl  meant 
vaguely  a  'nobleman'  or  more  loosely  'a  brave  warrior' 
or  'man'  generally;  but  under  Knut  it  took  over  the  mean- 
ing of  the  Norse  jarl  'an  under-king'  or  governor  of 
one  of  the  great  divisions  of  the  realm,  thus  paving  the 
way  for  the  present  signification  of  earl  as  one  of  the 
grades  in  the  (French)  scale  of  rank.    OE.  freond  meant 

yo  IV.  The  Scandinavians. 

only  'friend',  whereas  ON.  frcendi,  Dan.  frcende  means 
'kinsman',  but  in  Orrm  and  other  ME.  texts  the  word 
sometimes  has  the  Scand.  meaning^  and  so  it  has  to  this 
day  in  Scotch  and  American  dialects  (see  many  instances 
in  J.  Wright's  Dialect  Dictionary,  e.  g.  'We  are  near 
friends,  but  we  don't  speak');  the  Scotch  proverb  'Friends 
agree  best  at  a  distance'  corresponds  to  the  Danish 
'Fraende  er  fraende  vaerst'.  OE.  dwellan  or  dwelian  meant 
only  'to  lead  astray,  lead  into  error,  thwart'  or  intr.  'to 
go  astray'^;  the  intransitive  meanings,  'to  tarry,  abide, 
remain  in  a  place',  which  correspond  with  the  Scandi- 
navian meanings,  are  not  found  till  the  beginning  of  the 
13th  century.  OE.  ploh  is  found  only  with  the  meaning 
of  'a  measure  of  land'  (still  in  Scotch  pleuch),  but  in  ME. 
it  came  to  mean  the  implement  plough  (OE.  sulh)  as  in 
ON.  pldgr.  OE.  holm  meant  'ocean',  but  the  modern 
word  owes  its  signification  of  'islet,  flat  ground  by  a 
river'  to  Scandinavian  holm. 

72.  These  were  cases  of  native  words  conforming  to 
foreign  speech  habits;  in  other  instances  the  Scandina- 
vians were  able  to  place  words  at  the  disposal  of  the 
English  which  agreed  so  well  with  other  native  words 
as  to  be  readily  associated  with  them,  nay  which  were 
felt  to  be  fitter  expressions  for  the  ideas  than  the  Old 
English  words  and  therefore  survived.  Death  (dea]?)  and 
dead  are  OE.  words,  but  the  corresponding  verbs  were 
steorfan  and  sweltan;  now  it  is  obvious  that  Danish  deya 
(now  d&)  was  more  easily  associated  with  the  noun  and 
the  adjective  than  the  old  verbs,  and  accordingly  it  was 

1  Saxon  Chron.  11 35,  which  is  given  in  the  NED.  as  an  in 
stance  of  this  meaning,  appears  to  me  to  be  doubtful. 

2  Divelode,  in  /Elfric,  Homilies  i.  384,  is  wrongly  trans- 
lated by  Thorpe  'continued',  so  that  Kluge  is  wrong  as  giving 
this  passage  as  the  earliest  instance  of  the  modern  meaning; 
it  means  'wandered,  went  astray'. 

Ready  Associations.  7 1 

soon  adopted  (deyen,  now  die),  while  sweltan  was  dis- 
carded and  the  other  verb  acquired  the  more  special  signi- 
fication of  starving.  Scete,  Mod.  E.  seat,  was  adopted  be- 
cause it  was  at  once  associated  with  the  verbs  to  sit  and 
to  set.  The  most  important  importation  of  this  kind  was! 
that  of  the  pronominal  forms  they,  them  and  their,  which 
entered  readily  into  the  system  of  English  pronouns  be- 
ginning with  the  same  sound  (the,  that,  this)  and  were 
felt  to  be  more  distinct  than  the  old  native  forms  which 
they  supplanted.  Indeed  these  were  liable  to  constant 
confusion  with  some  forms  of  the  singular  number  (he, 
him,  her)  after  the  vowels  had  become  obscured,  so  that 
he  and  hie,  him  and  heom,  her  (hire)  and  heora  could  no 
longer  be  kept  easily  apart.  We  thus  find  the  obscured 
form,  which  was  written  a  (or  'a),  in  use  for  *he'  till  the 
beginning  of  the  i6th  century  (compare  the  dialectal 
use,  for  instance  in  Tennyson's  'But  Parson  a  cooms  an' 
a  goas'),  and  in  use  for  'she'  and  for  'they'  till  the  end 
of  the  14  th  century.  Such  a  state  of  things  would 
naturally  cause  a  great  number  of  ambiguities;  but  al- 
though the  th-iorms  must  consequently  be  reckoned  a 
great  advantage  to  the  language,  it  took  a  long  time 
before  the  old  forms  were  finally  displaced,  nay,  the 
dative  hem  still  survives  in  the  form  'em  ('take  'em'), 
which  is  now  by  people  ignorant  of  the  history  of  the 
language  taken  to  be  a  shortened  them;  her  'their'  is  the 
only  form  for  the  possessive  of  the  plural  found  in  Chaucer 
(who  says  they  in  the  nominative)  and  there  are  two  or 
three  instances  in  Shakespeare.  One  more  Scandinavian 
pronoun  is  same,  which  was  speedily  associated  with  the 
native  adverb  same  [swa  same  'similarly').  Other  words 
similarly  connected  with  the  native  stock  are  want  (adj. 
and  vb.),  which  reminded  the  English  of  their  own  wan 
'wanting',  wana  'want'  and  wanian  'wane,  lessen',  and  ill, 
which  must  have  appeared  like  a  stunted  form  of  evil, 

>j2  IV.  The  Scandinavians. 

especially  to  a  Scotchman  who  had  made  his  own  devil 
into  deil  and  even  into  ein. 

73.  If  now  we  try  to  find  out  by  means  of  the  loan- 
word test  (see  above,  §  31)  what  were  the  spheres  of  hu 
man  knowledge  or  activity  in  which  the  Scandinavians 
were  able  to  teach  the  English,  the  first  thing  that  strikes 
us  is  that  the  very  earliest  stratum  of  loan-words\  words 
which  by  the  way  were  soon  to  disappear  again  from  the 
language^,  relate  to  war  and  more  particularly  to  the 
navy:  orrest  'battle',  fylcian  'to  collect,  marshal',  li^ 
•fleet',  harda,  cnear,  scegt>  different  sorts  of  warships,  ha 
'rowlock'.  This  agrees  perfectly  well  with  what  the 
Saxon  Chronicle  relates  about  the  English  being  inferior 
to  the  heathen  in  ship-building,  until  King  Alfred  under- 
took to  construct  a  new  kind  of  warships.^ 

74.  Next,  we  find  a  great  many  Scandinavian  law- 
terms;  they  have  been  examined  by  Professor  Steenstrup 
in  his  well-known  work  on  'Danelag'.*  He  has  there 
been  able,  in  an  astonishing  number  of  cases,  to  show 
conclusively  that  the  vikings  modified  the  legal  ideas  of 
the  Anglo-Saxons,  and  that  numerous  new  law-terms 
sprang  up  at  the  time  of  the  Scandinavian  settlements 
which  had  previously  been  utterly  unknown.  Most  of 
them  were  simply  the  Danish  or  Norse  words,  others 
were  Anglicizings,  as  when  ON.  vapnatak  was  made  into 
wcepnagetcBC  (later  wapentake)  or  when  ON.  heimsokn  ap- 
pears as  hamsocn  'house-breaking  or  the  fine  for  that 
offence',  or  saklauss  as  sacleas  'innocent'.  The  most  im- 
portant of  these  juridical  imports  is  the  word  law  itself, 

1  See  Bjorkman,  p.  5. 

2  They  were  naturally  supplanted  py  French  words ,  see  below. 

3  Therefore,  I  cannot  believe  that  ON.  bat  is  a  loan  from 
OE  lai  (boat),  although  it  is  difficult  to  account  for  the  vowel 
by  any  other  theory. 

4  Copenhagen  1882  (—  Normanneme  IV). 

Legal  Terms.  ^^ 

known  in  England  from  the  loth  century  in  the  form 
lagu,  which  must  have  been  the  exact  Scandinavian  form 
as  it  is  the  direct  fore-runner  of  the  ON.  form  log,  ODan. 
logh.'^  By-law  is  now  felt  to  be  a  compound  of  the  pre- 
position by  and  law,  but  originally  by  was  the  Danish  by 
'town,  village'  (found  in  Derby,  Whitby,  etc.),  and  the 
Danish  genitive-ending  is  preserved  in  the  other  English 
form  byrlaw.  Other  words  belonging  to  this  class  are 
nicfing  'criminal,  wretch',  thriding  'third  part',  preserved 
in  the  mutilated  form  riding^,  carlman  'man'  as  opposed 
to  woman,  bonda  or  bunda  'peasant',  lysing  'freedman', 
^rcell,  Mod.  thrall,,  mal  'suit,  agreement',  wi]>ermal 
'counter-plea,  defence',  seht  'agreement',  stefnan  'summon', 
crafian  now  crave,  landcop  or  anglicized  landceap  and 
lahcop  or  lahceap  (for  the  signification  see  Steenstrup 
p.  192  ff.);  ran  'robbery';  infangen]>eof  later  infangthief 
'jurisdiction  over  a  thief  apprehended  within  the  manor'. 
It  will  be  seen  that  with  the  exception  of  law,  bylaw, 
thrall  and  crave  —  the  least  juridical  of  them  all  —  these 
Danish  law-terms  have  disappeared  from  the  language 
as  a  simple  consequence  of  the  Norman  conquerors  taking 
into  their  own  hands  the  courts  of  justice  and  legal 
affairs  generally.  Steenstrup's  research,  which  is  largely 
based  on  linguistic  facts,  may  be  thus  summarized.  The 
Scandinavian  settlers  re-organized  the  administration  of 
the  realm  and  based  it  on  a  uniform  and  equable  division 
of  the  country;  taxes  were  imposed  and  collected  after 
the  Scandinavian  pattern;  instead  of  the  lenient  criminal 

1  The  OE.  word  was  ce  or  csw ,  which  meant  'marriage'  as 
well  and  was  restricted  to  that  sense  in  late  OE,,  until  it  was 
displaced  by  the  French  word. 

2  North -thriding  being  heard  as  North-riding;  in  the  case 
of  the  two  other  ridings  of  Yorkshire,  East -thriding  and  West- 
thriding,  the  th-so\m.d  was  assimilated  to  the  preceding  /,  the 
result  in  all  three  cases  being  the  same  misdivision  of  the  word 
('  metanalysis '). 

y^.  IV.  The  Scandinavians. 

law  of  former  times,  a  virile  and  powerful  law  was  intro- 
duced which  was  better  capable  of  intimidating  fierce  and 
violent  natures.  More  stress  was  laid  on  personal  honour, 
as  when  a  sharp  line  was  drawn  between  stealthy  or 
clandestine  crimes  and  open  crimes  attributable  to  ob- 
stinacy or  vindictiveness.  Commerce,  too,  was  regulated 
so  as  to  secure  trade. ^ 

75.  Apart  from  these  legal  words  it  would  be  very 
difficult  to  point  out  any  single  group  of  words  belonging 
to  the  same  sphere  from  which  a  superiority  of  any  des- 
cription might  be  concluded.  Window  is  borrowed  from 
vindauga  ('wind-eye');  but  we  dare  not  infer  that  the 
northern  settlers  taught  the  English  anything  in  archi- 
tecture, for  the  word  stands  quite  alone;  besides  OE. 
had  another  word  for  'window',  which  is  also  based  on 
the  eye-shape  of  the  windows  in  the  old  wooden  houses: 
eag^yrel  'eye-hole'  (cf.  nospyrel  nostril.) ^  Nor  does  the 
borrowing  of  steak,  ME.  steyke  from  ON.  steik  prove  any 
superior  cooking  on  the  part  of  the  vikings.  But  it  is 
possible  that  the  Scandinavian  knives  (ME.  knif  from 
Scand.  knif)  were  better  than  or  at  any  rate  different  from 
those  of  other  nations,  for  the  word  was  introduced  into 
French  (canif)  as  well  as  into  English. 

76.  If,  then,  we  go  through  the  lists  of  loan-words, 
looking  out  for  words  from  which  conclusions  as  to  the 
state  of  culture  of  the  two  nations  might  be  drawn,  we 
shall  be  doomed  to  disappointment,  for  they  all  seem  to 
denote  objects  and  actions  of  the  most  commonplace 
de  xription  and  certainly  do  not  represent  any  new  set 

1  Steenstrup,  Danelag  p.  391  ff 

2  Most  European  languages  use  the  \^2X.  fenestra  {G.  fenster, 
Dutch  venster,  Welsh  ^enester),  which  was  also  imported  from 
French  into  English  as  fenester ,  in  use  from  1290  to  1548. 
Slavonic  languages  have  okno,  derived  from  oko  'eye'.  On  the 
eye -shape  of  old  windows  see  R.  Meringer,  Indogerm.  For- 
schungen  XVI  1904,  p.  125. 

Commonplace  Words,  75 

of  ideas  hitherto  unknown  to  the  people  adopting  them. 
We  find  such  everday  nouns  as  husband,  fellow,  sky, 
skull,  skin,  wing,  haven,  root,  skill,  anger,  gate^,  etc.  Among 
the  adjectives  adopted  from  Scand.  we  find  meek,  low, 
scant,  loose,  odd^,  wrong,  ill,  ugly,  rotten.  The  impression 
produced  perhaps  by  this  list  that  only  unpleasant  ad- 
jectives came  into  English  from  Scandinavia,  is  easily 
shown  to  be  wrong,  for  happy  and  seemly  too  are  derived 
from  Danish  roots,  not  to  speak  of  stor,  which  was  com- 
mon in  Middle  English  for  'great',  and  dialectal  adjec- 
tives like  glegg  'clear-sighted,  clever',  heppen  'neat,  tidy', 
gain  'direct,  handy',  (Sc.  and  North  E.  the  gainest  way, 
ON.  hinn  gegnsta  veg,  Dan.  den  genneste  vej).  The 
only  thing  common  to  the  adjectives,  then,  is  seen  to  be 
their  extreme  commonplaceness,  and  the  same  impression 
is  confirmed  by  the  verbs,  as  for  instance,  thrive,  die, 
cast,  hit,  take,  call,  want,  scare,  scrape,  scream,  scrub,  scowl, 
skulk,  bask,  drown,  ransack,  gape,  guess  (doubtful),  etc.  To 
these  must  be  added  numerous  words  preserved  only  in 
dialects  (north  country  and  Scotch)  such  as  lathe  'barn' 
Dan.  lade,  hoast  'cough'  Dan.  hoste,  flit  'move'  Dan.  flytte, 
gar  'make,  do'  Dan.  gore,  lait  'search  for'  Dan.  lede,  red 
up  'to  tidy'  Dan.  rydde  op,  keek  in  'peep  in',  ket  'carrion, 
horseflesh,  tainted  flesh,  rubbish',  originally  'flesh,  meat' 
as  Dan.  kQd,  etc.,  all  of  them  words  belonging  to  the 
same  familiar  sphere,  and  having  nothing  about  them 
that  might  be  called  technical  01  indicative  of  a  higher 
culture.  The  same  is  true  of  that  large  class  of  words 
which  have  been  mentioned  above  (§  65 — 72),  where  the 
Scandinavians  did  not  properly  bring  the  word  itself, 

1  Gate  'way,  road,  street',  frequent  in  some  northern  towns 
An  the  names  of  streets ,  frequent  also  in  ME-  adverbial  phrases 

algate,  anothergate{s)  (corrupted  into  anotherguess),  etc.  In 
the  sense  'manner  of  going'  it  is  now  spelt  gait. 

2  Cf.  North-Jutland  dialect  (Vendsyssel)   oj  'odd  (number)'. 

7  5  IV.  The  Scandinavians. 

but  modified  either  the  form  or  the  .ignification  of  a 
native  word;  among  them  we  have  seen  such  everyday 
words  as  get,  give,  sister,  loose,  birth,  awe,  bread,  dream, 
etc.^  It  is  precisely  the  most  indispensable  elements  of^ 
the  language  that  have  undergone  the  strongest  Scandi- 
navian influence,  and  this  is  raised  into  certainty  whenl 
we  discover  that  a  certain  number  of  those  grammatical] 
words,  the  small  coin  of  language,  which  Chinese  gram- 
marians term  'empty  words',  and  which  are  nowhere  else 
transferred  from  one  language  to  another,  have  been 
taken  over  from  Danish  into  English:  pronouns  like 
they,  them,  their,  the  same  and  probably  both',  a  modal 
verb  like  Scotch  maun,  mun  (ON.  munu,  Dan.  mon, 
monne);  comparatives  like  minne  'lesser',  min  'less',  helder 
•rather';  pronominal  adverbs  like  hethen,  thethen,  whethen 
'hence,  thence,  whence',  samen  'together';  conjunctions 
like  though,  oc  'and',  sum,  which  for  a  long  time  seemed 
likely  to  displace  the  native  swa  (so)  after  a  comparison, 
until  it  was  itself  displaced  by  eallswa  >  as;  prepositions 
L  like  fro  and  till  (see  above  §  64). ^ 

77.  It  is  obvious  that  all  these  non-technical  words 
can  show  us  nothing  about  mental  or  industrial  superi- 
ority; they  do  not  bear  witness  to  the  currents  of  civili- 
zation; what  was  denoted  by  them  cannot  have  been 
new  to  the  English;  we  have  here  no  new  ideas,  only 
new  names.  Does  that  mean,  then,  that  the  loan-word 
test  which  we  are  able  to  apply  elsewhere,  fails  in  this 
one  case,   and  that  linguistic  facts  can  tell  us  nothing 

1  It  is  noticeable,  too,  that  the  native  word  heaven  has  been 
more  and  more  restricted  to  the  figurative  and  religious  accep- 
tation, while  the  Danish  sky  is  used  exclusively  of  the  visible 
firmament;  sky  originally  meant  cloud. 

2  Another  preposition,  umbe,  was  probably  to  a  large  extent 
due  to  Scandinavian,  the  native  form  being  ymde,  embe\  but 
perhaps  in  some  texts  u  in  umbe  may  represent  the  vowel  [y]. 

Intimate  Fusion.  *j<n 

about  the  reciprocal  relations  of  the  two  races?  No; 
on  the  contrary,  the  suggestiveness  of  these  loans  leaves 
nothing  to  be  desired,  they  are  historically  significant 
enough.  If  the  English  loan-words  in  this  period  extend 
to  spheres  where  other  languages  do  not  borrow,  if  the 
Scandinavian  and  the  English  languages  were  woven 
more  intimately  together,  the  reason  must  be  a  more  in- 
timate fusion  of  the  two  nations  than  is  seen  anywhere 
else.  They  fought  like  brothers  and  afterwards  settled 
down  peaceably,  like  brothers,  side  by  side.  The  num- 
bers of  the  Danish  and  Norwegian  settlers  must  have 
been  considerable,  else  they  would  have  disappeared 
without  leaving  such  traces  in  the  language. 

78.  It  might  at  the  first  blush  seem  reasonable  to 
think  that  what  was  going  on  among  Scandinavian  sett- 
lers in  England  was  parallel  to  what  we  see  going  on 
now  in  the  United  States.  But  there  is  really  no  great 
similarity  between  the  two  cases.  The  language  of  Scan- 
dinavian and  other  settlers  in  America  is  often  a  curious 
mixture,  but  it  is  very  important  to  notice  that  it  is 
i Danish  or  Norwegian,  sprinkled  with  English  words: 
'han  har  fencet  sin  farm  og  venter  en  god  krop'  he  has 
fenced  his  farm  and  expects  a  good  crop;  'lad  os  krosse 
streeten'  let  us  cross  the  street,  'tag  det  trae'  take  that 
tray;  'hun  suede  ham  i  courten  for  25  000  daler'  etc. 
But  this  is  toto  ccbIo  different  from  the  English  language 
of  the  middle  ages.  And  if  we  do  not  take  into  account 
those  districts  where  Scandinavians  constitute  the  im- 
mense majority  of  the  population  and  keep  up  their  old 
speech  as  pure  as  circumstances  will  permit,  the  children 
or  at  any  rate  the  children's  children  of  the  immigrants 
speak  English,  and  very  pure  English  too  without  any 
Danish  admixture.  The  English  language  of  America 
has  no  loan-words  worth  mentioning  from  the  languages 
of  the  thousands  and  thousands  of  Germans,  Scandina- 


IV.  The  Scandinavians. 

vians,  French,  Poles  and  others  that  have  settled  there. 
Nor  are  the  reasons  far  to  seek.^  The  immigrants  come 
in  small  groups  and  find  their  predecessors  half,  or  more 
than  half,  Americanized;  those  belonging  to  the  same 
country  cannot,  accordingly,  maintain  their  nationality  i 
collectively;  they  come  in  order  to  gain  a  livelihood,  | 
generally  in  subordinate  positions  where  it  is  important 
to  each  of  them  separately  to  be  as  little  different  as 
possible  from  his  new  surroundings,  in  garb,  in  manners, 
and  in  language.  The  faults  each  individual  commits 
in  talking  English,  therefore,  can  have  no  con&jquences 
of  lasting  importance,  and  at  any  rate  his  children  are 
in  most  respects  situated  like  the  children  of  the  natives  J 
and  learn  the  same  language  in  essentially  the  same 
manner.  In  old  times,  of  course,  many  a  Dane  in  Eng- 
land would  speak  his  mother-tongue  with  a  large  admix- 
ture of  English,  but  that  has  no  significance  in  linguistic 
history,  for  in  course  of  time  the  descendants  of  the  im- 
migrants would  no  longer  learn  Scandinavian  as  their 
mother-tongue,  but  English.  But  that  which  is  import- 
ant, is  the  fact  of  the  English  themselves  intermingling 
their  own  native  speech  with  Scandinavian  elements. 
Now  the  manner  in  which  this  is  done  shows  us  that 
the  culture  or  civilization  of  the  Scandinavian  settlers 
cannot  have  been  of  a  higher  order  than  that  of  the 
English,  for  then  we  should  have  seen  in  the  loan-words 
special  groups  of  technical  terms  indicative  of  this  superi- 
ority. Neither  can  their  state  of  culture  have  been  much 
inferior  to  that  of  the  English,  for  in  that  case  they  would 
have  adopted  the  language   of  the  natives  without  ap- 

I  See  G.  Hempl's  valuable  paper  on  Language -Rivalry 
and  Speech  -  Differentiation  in  the  case  of  Race  Mixture.  (Trans- 
act, of  the  Amer.  Philol.  Association,  XXIX,  1898,  p.  35). 
Hempl's  very  short  mention  of  the  Scandinavians  in  England, 
is ,  perhaps ,  the  least  satisfactory  portion  of  his  paper ;  none  of 
his  classes  apply  to  our  case. 

Speech  Mixture.  nq 

preciably  influencing  it.  This  is  what  happened  with 
the  Goths  in  Spain,  with  the  Franks  in  France  and  with 
the  Danes  in  Normandy,  in  all  of  which  cases  the  Ger- 
manic tongues  were  absorbed  into  the  Romance  lan- 
guages.^ It  is  true  that  the  Scandinavians  were,  for  a 
short  time  at  least,  the  rulers  of  England,  and  we  have 
found  in  the  juridical  loan-words  linguistic  corroboration 
of  this  fact;  but  the  great  majority  of  the  settlers  did 
not  belong  to  the  ruling  class.  Their  social  standing  must 
have  been,  on  the  whole,  slightly  superior  to  the  average 
of  the  English,  but  the  difference  cannot  have  been 
great,  for  the  bulk  of  Scandinavian  words  are  of  a  purely 
democratic  character.  This  is  clearly  brought  out  by  a 
comparison  with  the  French  words  introduced  in  the 
following  centuries,  for  here  language  confirms  what 
history  tells  us,  that  the  French  represent  the  rich,  the 
ruling,  the  refined,  the  aristocratic  element  in  the  Eng- 
lish nation.  How  different  is  the  impression  made  by 
the  Scandinavian  loan-words.  They  are  homely  ex- 
pressions for  things  and  actions  of  everyday  importance; 
their  character  is  utterly  democratic.  The  difference  is 
also  shown  by  so  many  of  the  French  words  having 
never  penetrated  into  the  speech  of  the  people,  so  that 

I  It  is  instructive  to  contrast  the  old  speech  -  mixture  in  Eng- 
land with  what  has  been  going  on  for  the  last  two  centuries 
in  the  Shetland  Islands.  Here  the  old  Norwegian  dialect  ('  Norn ') 
has  perished  as  a  consequence  of  the  natives  considering  it 
more  genteel  to  speak  English  (Scotch).  All  common  words 
of  their  speech  now  are  English ,  but  they  have  retained  a  certain 
number  of  Norn  words,  all  of  them  technical,  denoting  different 
species  of  fish,  fishing  implements,  small  parts  of  the  boat  or 
of  the  house  and  its  primitive  furniture,  those  signs  in  clouds, 
i  etc.,  from  which  the  weather  was  forecast  at  sea,  technicalities 
of  sheep  rearing,  nicknames  for  things  which  appear  to  them 
ludicrous  or  ridiculous,  etc.  —  all  of  them  significant  of  the 
language  of  a  subjugated  and  poor  population.  (J.  Jakobsen, 
Det  norr^me  sprog  pa  Shetland,  Copenhagen  1897.) 

3o  IV.  The  Scandinavians. 

they  have  been  known  and  used  only  by  the  'upper 
ten',  while  the  Scandinavian  ones  are  used  by  high  and 
low  alike;  their  shortness  too  agrees  with  the  mono- 
syllabic character  of  the  native  stock  of  words,  conse- 
quently they  are  far  less  felt  as  foreign  elements  than^ 
many  French  words;  in  fact,  in  many  statistical  calcu- 
lations of  the  propoition  of  native  to  imported  words  in' 
English,  Scandinavian  words  have  been  more  or  less  in- 
advertently included  in  the  native  elements.  Just  as 
it  is  impossible  to  speak  or  write  in  English  about  higher 
intellectual  or  emotional  subjects  or  about  fashionable 
mundane  matters  without  drawing  largely  upon  the 
French  (and  Latin)  elements,  in  the  same  manner  Scan- 
dinavian words  will  crop  up  together  with  the  Anglo- 
Saxon  ones  in  any  conversation  on  the  thousand  nothings 
of  daily  life  or  on  the  five  or  six  things  of  paramount 
importance  to  high  and  low  alike.  An  Englishman  cannot 
thrive  or  be  ill  or  die  without  Scandinavian  words;  they 
are  to  the  language  what  bread  and  eggs  are  to  the  daily 
fare.  To  this  element  of  his  language  an  Englishman 
might  apply  what  Wordsworth  says  of  the  daisy: 

Thou  unassuming  common -place 
Of  Nature,  with  that  homely  face 
And  yet  with  something  of  a  grace 
Which  Love  makes  for  thee!  — 

79.  The  form  in  which  the  words  were  borrowed  oc- 
casions very  few  remarks.    Those  nouns  which  in  Scand. 
had  the  nominative  ending  -r,  did  not  keep  it,  the  kernel 
only  of  the  word  (=  accus.)  being  taken  over.     In  one 
instance  the  Norse  genitive-ending  appears  in  English;  \ 
the  Norse  phrase  d  ndttar  ]>eli  'in  the  middle  of  the  night' ' 
(pel  means    'power,    strength')   was   Anglicized   into   on ; 
nighter  tale  (Cursor  Mundi),  or  bi  nighter  tale  (Havelock,  ? 
*  Chaucer   etc.).      The   -t  in   neuters   of   adjectives,    that 

Grammar.  8 1 

distinctive  Scandinavian  trait,  is  found  in  scani^,  want  ' 
and  (a) thwart.  Most  Norse  verbs  have  the  weak  inflexion 
in  English,  a3  might  be  expected  {e.  g.  die,  which  in  Old 
Scand.  was  a  strong  verb),  but  there  is  one  noteworthy 
exception,  take,  that  kept  its  Scand.  strong  inflection, 
ON.  taka  tdk  taken.  There  are  a  few  interesting  words 
with  the  Scand.  passive  voice  in  -sk  (from  the  reflexive 
pronoun  sik):  bask^  and  busk^,  but  in  English  they  are 
treated  like  active  forms.  The  shortness  of  the  ^^-forms 
may  have  led  to  their  being  taken  over  as  inseparable 
wholes,  for  ON.  otlask  and  privask  lost  the  reflexive  end- 
ing in  English  addle  'acquire,  earn'  and  thrive. 

80.  As  the  Danes  and  the  English  could  understand 
one  another  without  much  difficulty  it  was  natural  that 
many  niceties  of  grammar  should  be  sacrificed,  the  in- 
telligibility of  either  tongue  coming  to  depend  mainly 
on  its  mere  vocabulary.*  So  when  we  find  that  the 
wearing  away  and  leveUing  of  grammatical  forms  in  the 
regions  in  which  the  Danes  chiefly  settled  was  a  couple 
of  centuries  in  advance  of  the  same  process  in  the  more 
southern  parts  of  the  country,  the  conclusion  does  not 
seem  unwairantable  that  this  is  due  to  the  settlers  who 
did  not  care  to  learn  EngHsh  correctly  in  every  minute 
particular  and  who  certainly  needed  no  such  accuracy 
in  order  to  make  themselves  understood. 

80  a.  With  regard  to  syntax  our  want  of  adequate  early 
texts  in  Scandinavia  as  well  as  in  North  England  makes 

I  Properly  skammt,  neuter  of  skammr  'short';   the  derived 
verb  skemta,  Dan.  skemte  'joke'  is  found  in  ME.  skemten. 
'     2  ON.  bdba-sk   'bathe   oneself   rather  than   baka-sk  'bake 

3  ON.  bua-sk  'prepare  oneself. 

4  Jespersen,  Progress  iii  Language,  p.  173.  Compare  the  ex- 
planation of  the  similar  simplification  of  Dutch  in  South  Africa 
given  by  H.Meyer,  Die  Sprache  der  Buren.  (Gottingen  1901,  p.  16.) 

Jespersen:  English.  2nd  ed.  6 

g2    /  IV,  The  Scandinavians. 

it  impossible  for  us  to  state  anything  very  definite;  but 
the  nature  of  those  loans  which  we  are  able  to  verify, 
warrants  the  conclusion  that  the  intimate  fusion  of  the 
two  languages  must  certainly  have  influenced  syntactical 
relations,   and   when  we   find   in   later   times   numerous 
striking  correspondences  between   English  and   Danish, 
it  seems  probable  that  some  at  least  of  them  date  from 
the  viking  settlements,  i  It  is  true,  for  instance,  that  rela- 
tive clauses  without  any  pronoun  are  found  in  very  rare 
cases  in  Old  English;  but  they  do  not  become  common 
till  the  Middle  English  period,  when  they  abound;  the 
use  of  these  clauses  is  subject  to  the  same  restrictions 
in  both  languages,  so  that  in  ninety  out  of  a  hundred 
instances  where  an  Englishman  leaves  out  the  relative 
pronoun,  a  Dane  would  be  able  to  do  likewise,  and  vice 
versa.     The  rules  for  the  omission  or  retention  of  the 
conjunction  that  are  nearly  identical.     The  use  of  will 
and  shall  in  Middle   English  corresponds  pietty  nearly 
with  Scandinavian;  if  in  Old  English  an  auxiliary  was 
used  to  express  futurity,  it  was  generally  sceal,  just  as  in 
modern  Dutch  (sal) ;  wile  was  rare.    In  Modern  Enghsh 
the  older  rules  have  been  greatly  modified,  but  in  many 
cases  where  English  commentators  on  Shakespeare  note 
divergences   from   modern   usage,    a    Dane   would   have 
used   the  same  verb   as   Shakespeare.      Furness,    in  his 
note  to  the  sentence  'Besides  it  should  appear'  (Merch. 
III.  2.  289  =  275  Globe  ed.)  writes:  'It  is  not  easy  to 
define  this  'should'    ....    The  Elizabethan  use  of  should 
is  to  me  always  difficult  to  analyse.    Compare  Stephano's 
question  about  Caliban:  'Where  the  devil  should  he  learn 
our    language .f*'     Now,    a    Dane  would  say  'det  skulde, 
synes',  and  'Hvor  fanden  skulde  han  laere  vort  sprog?' 
Abbott  (Shakeip.  Grammar  §  319)  says  'There  is  a  diffi- 
culty in  the  expression  'perchance  I  will';  but,  from  its 
constant  recurrence,  it  would  seem  to  be  a  regular  idiom';) 


Syntax.  g^ 

a  Dane,  in  the  three  quotations  given,  would  say  vil.  And 
similarly  in  other  instances.  *He  could  have  done  it' 
agrees  with  'han  kunde  have  gjort  det'  as  against  'er 
hatte  es  tun  konnen'  (and  French  *il  aurait  pu  le  faire'), 
and  the  Scotch  idiom  'He  wad  na  wrang'd  the  vera 
Deir  (Burns),  'ye  wad  thought  Sir  Arthur  had  a  pleasure 
in  it'  (Scott),  where  Caxton  and  the  Elizabethans  could 
also  omit  have,  has  an  exact  parallel  in  Danish  'vilde 
gjort',  etc.  Other  points  in  syntax  might  perhaps  be 
ascribed  to  Scandinavian  influence,  such  as  the  universal 
position  of  the  genitive  case  before  its  noun  (where  Old 
English  like  German  placed  it  very  often  after  it),  the 
use  of  a  preposition  governing  a  dependent  clause  (he 
talked  of  how  people  had  injured  him,  found  as  early 
as  Orrmulum;  here  German  must  say  davon,  wie,  and 
Dutch  er  van  hoe),  etc.;  but  in  these  delicate  matters  it 
is  not  safe  to  assert  too  much,  as  in  fact  many  similarities 
may  have  been  independently  developed  in  both  lan- 

Chapter  V. 
The  French. 

81.  If  with  regard  to  the  Scandinavian  invasion  histo- 
rical documents  were  so  scarce  that  the  linguistic  evi- 
dence drawn  from  the  number  and  character  of  the  loan- 
words was  a  very  important  supplement  to  our  histori- 
cal knowledge  of  the  circumstances,  the  same  cannot  be 
said  of  the  Norman  Conquest.  Tlhe  Normans^  much  more 
^an  the  Danes,  were  felt  as  an  alipn  rarp;  i-Viair  occu- 
pation of  the  country  attracted  much  more  notice  and 
lasted  much  longer;  they  became  the  ruling^class  and 
as_^iidi_Jvere  much  more  spoken  of  in  contemporary 
literature  and  in  historical  records  than  the  comparatively 
obscure  Scandinavian  element;  and  finally,  they  repre- 
sented  ahigher  culture  than  the  natives  and  had  a 
literature  of  their  own,  in  which  numerous  direct  state- 
ments and  indirect  hints  tell  us  about  their  doings  and 
their  relations  with  the  native  population.  No  wonder, 
therefore,  that  historians  should  have  given  much  more 
attention  to  this  fuller  material  and  to  all  the  interesting 
problems  connected  with  the  Noiman  conquest  than  to 
the  race-mixture  attending  the  Scandinavian  immigra- 
tions. This  is  true  in  respect  not  only  of  political  andjj 
social  history,  but  also  of  the  language,  in  which  the  Nor- 
man-French element  is  so  conspicuous,  and  so  easily  ac- 
cessible to  the  student  that  it  has  been  discussed  very!] 
often  and  from  various  points  of  view.    And  yet,  there  is 


The  Rulers  of  England.  85 

still  much  work  for  future  investigators  to  do.  In  accord- 
ance with  the  geneial  plan  of  my  work,  I  shall  in  this 
chapter  deal  chiefly  with  what  has  been  of  permanent 
importance  to  the  future  of  the  English  language,  and 
endeavour   to    characterize   the    influence   exercized   by 

(French  as  contrasted  with  that  exercized  by  other  lan- 
guages with  which  English  has  come  into  contact. 

82.    The.    Normans    hfrc^mp    mac;<-pr<;    nf_Fng1anH^    and 

they  remained  masters  for  a  sufficiently  long  time  to 
leave  a  deep  impress  on  the  language.  The  conquerors 
were  numerous  and  powerful,  but  the  linguistic  influence 
would  have  been  far  less  if  they  had  not  continued  for 
centuries  in  actual  contact  and  constant  intercourse  with 
the  French  of  France,  of  whom  many  were  induced  by 
later  kings  to  settle  in  England.  We  need  only  go  through 
a  list  of  French  loan-words  in  English  to  be  firmly  con- 
vinced of  the  fact  that  the  immigrants  formed  the  upper 
classes  of  the  English  societyjifter  the  conquestTso^any 
>of  the  woxds,are_distinctly  aristocratic^  It  is  true  that 
they  left  the  old  words  king  and  queen  intact,  but  apart 
from  these  nearly  all  words  relating  to  government  and 
to  the  highest  administration  are  French;  see,  for  in- 
stance, crown,  state,  government  and  to  govern,  reign^ 
realm  (0.  Fr.  realme,  Mod.  Fr.  royaume),  sovereign^ 
country,  power;  minister,  chancellor,  council  (and  counsel), 
authority,  parliament,  exchequer.  People  and  nation,  too, 
were  political  words;  the  corresponding  OE.  Jjeod  is  not 
found  latei  than  the  thirteenth  century.  Feudalism  was 
imported  from  France,  and  with  it  were  introduced  a 
number  of  words,  such  as  fief,  feudal,  vassal,  liege,  and 
[  the  names  of  the  various  steps  in  the  scale  of  rank: 
j  prince,  peer,  duke  with  duchess,  marquis,  viscount,  baron^ 
I  It  is,  perhaps,  surprising  that  lord  and  lady  should  have 
[  remained  in  esteem,  and  that  earl  should  have  been 
i  retained,   count  being  chiefly  used   in  speaking  of  for- 

86  V.  The  French. 

eigners,  but  the  earl's  wife  was  designated  by  the  French 
word  countess,  and  court  is  French,  as  well  as  the  ad- 
jectives relating  to  court  life,  such  as  courteous,  noble, 
fine  and  refined.  Honour  and  glory  belong  to  the  French, 
and  so  does  heraldry,  while  nearly  all  English  expressions 
relating  to  that  difficult  science  are  of  French  origin, 
some  of  them  curiously  distorted. 

83.  The  upper  classes,  as  a  matter  of  course,  took  into 
their  hands  the  management  of  military  matters;  and 
although  in  some  cases  it  was  a  long  time  before  the  old 
native  terms  were  finally  displaced  {here  and  fird,  for 
instance,  were  used  till  the  fifteenth  century  when  army 
began  to  be  common),  we  have  a  host  of  French  mili- 
tary words,  many  of  them  of  very  early  introduction. 
Such  are  war  (ME.  werre.  Old  North  Fr.  werre,  Central 
French  guerre)  and  peace,  battle,  arms,  armour,  buckler, 
hauberk,  mail  (chain-mail;  O  Fr.  maille  'mesh  of  a  net'), 
lance,  dart,  cutlass,  banner,  ensign,  assault,  siege,  etc. 
Further  officer,  colonel,  chieftain  {captain  is  later),  lieu- 
tenant, sergeant,  soldier,  troops,  dragoon,  vessel,  navy  and 
admiral  (orig.  amiral  in  English  as  in  French,  ultimately 
an  Arabic  word).  Some  words  which  are  now  used  very 
extensively  outside  the  military  sphere,  were  without 
any  doubt  at  first  purely  military,  such  as  challenge^ 
enemy,  danger,  escape  (scape),  espy  (spy),  aid,  prison^ 
hardy,  gallant,  march,  force,  company,  guard,  etc. 

84.  Another  natural  consequence  of  the  power  of  the 
Norman  upper  classes  is  that  most  of  the  terms  per- 
taining to  the  law  are  of  French  origin,  such  as  justice, 
just,  judge;  jury,  court  (we  have  seen  the  word  already 
in  another  sense),  suit,  sue,  plaintiff  and  defendant,  a  plea, 
plead,  to  summon,  cause,  assize,  session,  attorney,  fee,  ac- 
cuse,  crime,  guile,  felony,  traitor,  damage,  dower,  heritage, 
property,  real  estate,  tenure,  penalty,  demesne,  injury,  priv 
ilege.     Some  of  these  are  now  hardly  to  be  called  tech- 


Military  and  Legal  Words.  87 

nical  juridical  words,  and  there  are  others  which  belong 
still  more  to  the  ordinary  vocabulary  of  every-day  life, 
but  which  were  undoubtedly  at  first  introduced  by  lawyers 
at  the  time  when  procedure  was  conducted  entirely  in 
French^;  for  instance,  case,  marry,  marriage,  oust,  prove^ 
false  (pel haps  also  fault),  heir,  probably  also  male  and 
female,  while  defend  and  prison  are  common  to  the  juri- 
dical and  the  military  worlds.     Petty  (Fr.  petit)  was,   I 
suspect,  introduced  by  the  jurists  in  such  combinations 
as  petty  jury,  petty  larceny,  petty  constable,  petty  sessions, 
petty  averages,  petty  treason  (still  often  spelt  petit  treason), 
etc.,  before  it  was  used  commonly.    The  French  puis  ne 
in  its  legal  sense  remains  puisne  in  English  (in  law  it 
means  'younger  or  inferior  in  rank',  but  originally  'later 
born*),  while  in  ordinary  language  it  has  adopted  the  spell- 
ing puny,  as  if  the  -y  had  been  the  usual  adjective  ending. 
85.  Besides,  there  are  a  good  many  words  that  have 
never  become  common  property,  but  have  been  known 
to  jurists  only,  such  as  mainour  (to  be  taken  with  the 
mainour,  to  be  caught  in  the  very  act  of  steahng,  from 
Fr.  manoeuvre),  jeofail  ('an  oversight',  the  acknowledge- 
ment of  an  error  in  pleading,  from  je  faille),  cestui  que 
trust,  cestui  (a)  que  vie  and  other  phrases  equally  shrouded 
in  mystery  to  the  man  in  the  street.     Larceny  has  been 
almost  exclusively  the  property  of  lawyers,  so  that  it  has 
not  ousted  theft  from  general  use;  such  words  as  thief 
and  steal  were  of  course  too   popular  to  be  displanted 
by  French  juridical  terms,  though  burglar  is  probably  of 
French  origin.     It  is  also  worth  observing  how  many  of 
the  phrases  in  which  the  adjective  is  invariably  placed 

I  From  1362  English  was  established  as  the  official  lan- 
guage spoken  in  the  courts  of  justice ,  yet  the  curious  mongrel 
language  known  as  'Law  French'  continued  in  use  there  for 
centuries;  Cromwell  tried  to  break  its  power,  but  it  was  not 
finally  abolished  till  an  act  of  Parliament  of  i73i- 

38  V.  The  French. 

after  its  noun,  are  law  terms,  taken  over  bodily  from 
the  French,  e.  g.  heir  male,  issue  male,  fee  simple,  proof  \ 
demonstrative,  malice  prepense  (or,  Englished,  malice 
aforethought)'^,  letters  patent  (formerly  also  with  the  ad- 
jective inflected,  letters  patents,  Shakesp.  R  2  II  i.  202), 
attorney  general  (and  other  combinations  of  general,  all  of 
which  are  official,  though  some  of  them  are  not  juridical). 

86.  As  ecclesiastical  matters  were  also  chiefly  under 
the  control  of  the  higher  classes,  we  find  a  great  many 
French  words  connected  with  the  ch\irch,  such  as  religion, 
service,  trinity,  saviour,  virgin,  angel  (O  Fr.  angele,  now 
Fr.  ange;  the  OE.  word  engel  was  taken  direct  from  Latin, 
see  §  38),  saint,  relic,  abbey,  cloister,  friar  (ME.  frere  as 
in  French),  clergy,  parish,  baptism,  sacrifice,  orison,  homily, 
altar,  miracle,  preach,  pray,  prayer,  sermon,  psalter  (ME. 
sauter),  feast  ('religious  anniversary').  Words  like  rule, 
lesson,  save,  tempt,  blame,  order,  nature,  which  now  belong  ' 
to  the  common  language  and  have  very  extensive  ranges 
of  signification,  were  probably  at  first  purely  ecclesiasti- 
cal words.  As  the  clergy  were,  moreover,  teachers  of 
morality  as  well  as  of  religion  they  introduced  the 
whole  gamut  of  words  pertaining  to  moral  ideas  from 
virtue  to  vice:  duty,  conscience,  grace,  charity,  cruel, 
chaste ,  covet ,  desire ,  lechery,  fool  (one  of  the  oldest 
meanings  is  'sensual'),  jealous,  pity,  discipline,  mercy, 
and  others. 

87.  To  these  words,  taken  from  different  domains,  may 
be  added  other  words  of  more  general  meaning,  which 
are  highly  significant  as  to  the  relations  between  the 
Normans  and  the  English,  such  as  sir  and  madam,  master 
and  mistress  with  their  contrast  servant  (and  the  verb  to 
serve),  further   command  and  obey,  order,  rent,  rich  and 

I  Cf.  also    lords    spiritual    and    lords   temporal',    the    body 

Masters  and  Servants.  8q 

poor  with  the  nouns  riches  and  poverty;  money,  interest^ 
cash,  rent,  etc. 

88.  It  is  a  remark  that  was  first  made  by  John  WaHis^ 
and  that  has  been  very  often  repeated,  especially  since 
Sir  Walter  Scott  made  it  popular  in  'Ivanhoe',  that 
while  the  names  of  seveial  animals  in  their  lifetime  are 
English  (oXf  cow,  calf,  sheep,  swine,  boar,  deer)  they 
appear  on  the  table  with  French  names  (heef,  veal,  mutton, 
pork,  bacon,  brawn,  venison).  This  is  generally  explained  | 
from  the  masters  leaving  the  care  of  the  living  animals 
to  the  lower  classes,  while  they  did  not  leave  much  of  1 
the  meat  to  be  eaten  by  them.  But  it  may  with  just  as  i 
much  right  be  contended  that  the  use  of  the  French 
words  here  is  due  to  the  superiority  of  the  French  cuisine, 
which  is  shown  by  a  great  many  other  words  as  well, 
such  as  sauce,  boil,  fry,  roast,  toast,  pasty,  pastry,  soup, 
sausage,  jelly,  dainty;  while  the  humbler  breakfast  is  Eng- 
lish, the  more  sumptuous  meals,  dinner  and  supper,  as 
well  as  feasts  generally,  are  French. 

89.  We  see  on  the  whole  that  the  masters  knew  how 
to  enjoy  life  and  secure  the  best  things  to  themselves;  / 
note  also  such  words  as  joy  and  pleasure,  delight,  ease' 
and  comfort]  flowers  and  fruits  may  be  mentioned  in  the 
same  category.  And  if  we  go  through  the  different  ob- 
jects or  pastimes  that  make  life  enjoyable  to  people 
having  plenty  of  leisure  (this  word,  too,  is  French)  we 
shall  find  an  exceedingly  large  number  of  French  words. 
The  chase^  of  course  was  one  of  the  favourite  pastimes, 
and  though  the  native  hunt  was  never  displaced,  yet 
we  find  many  French  terms  relating  to  the  chase,  such 
as  brace  and  couple,  leash,  falcon,  quarry,  warren,  scent, 
track.    The  general  term  sport,  too,  is  of  course  a  French 

1  Grammatica  linguae  Anglicanae  1653. 

2  This  is    the  Central  French  form  of   the    word    that   was 
taken  over  in  a  North  French  dialectal  form  as  catch  (Latin  captiare). 

go  V.  The  French. 

word;  it  is  a  shortened  form  of  desport  (disport).  Cards 
and  dice  are  French  words,  and  so  are  a  great  many 
words  relating  to  different  games  (partner,  suit,  trump), 
some  of  the  most  interesting  being  the  numerals  used 
by  card  and  dice  players:  ace,  deuce,  tray,  cater,  cinque, 
size;  cf.  Chaucer's  'Sevene  is  my  chaunce,  and  thyn  is 
cynk  and  treye'  (C  653). 

90.  The  French  led  the  fashion  in  the  middle  ages, 
just  as  they  do  to  some  extent  even  now,  so  we  expect 
to  find  a  great  many  French  words  relating  to  dress; 
in  fact,  in  going  through  Chaucer's  Prologue  to  the 
Canterbury  Tales,  where  in  introducing  his  gallery  of 
figures  he  seldom  omits  to  mention  their  dress,  one  will 
-see  that  in  nearly  all  cases  where  etymologists  have  been 
.able  to  trace  the  special  names  of  particular  garments 
to  their  sources  these  are  French.  And  of  course,  such 
general  terms  as  apparel,  dress,  costume,  and  garment  are 
derived  from  the  same  language. 

91.  The  French  were  the  teachers  of  the  English  in 
most  things  relating  to  art;  not  only  such  words  as  art, 
beauty,  colour,  image,  design,  figure,  ornament,  to  paint,  but 
also  the  greater  number  of  the  more  special  words  of 
technical  significance  are  French;  from  architecture  may 
be  mentioned,  by  way  of  specimens:  arch,  tower,  pillar, 
vault,  porch,  column,  aisle,  choir,  reredos,  transept,  chapel, 
cloister  (the  last  of  which  belong  here  as  well  as  to  our 
§  86),  not  to  mention  palace,  castle,  manor,  mansion,  etc. 
If  we  go  through  the  names  of  the  various  kinds  of 
artisans,  etc.,  we  cannot  fail  to  be  struck  with  the  dif- 
ference between  the  more  homely  or  more  elementary 
occupations  which  have  stuck  to  their  old  native  names 
(such  as  baker,  miller,  smith,  weaver,  saddler,  shoemaker, 
wheelwright,  -fisherman,  shepherd,  and  others),  on  the  one 
hand,  and  on  the  other  those  which  brought  their  practi- 
tioners  into    more   immediate   contact   with   the   upper 

Dress,  Art,  Phrases.  gi 

classes,  or  in  which  fashion  perhaps  played  a  greater  part; 
these  latter  have  French  names,  for  instance,  tailor^ 
butcher,  mason,  painter,  carpenter  and  joiner  (note  also 
such  words  as  furniture,  chair,  table  etc.). 

92.  I  am  afraid   I  have  tired  the  reader  a  little  with 
all  these  long  lists  of  words.     My  purpose  was  to  give 
abundant  linguistic  evidence  for  the  fact  that  the  French 
were  the  rich,  the  powerful,  and  the  refined  classes.     It 
was  quite  natural  that  the  lower  classes  should  soon  begin 
to  imitate  such  of  the  expressions  of  the  rich  as  they 
could  catch  the  meaning  of.     They  would  adopt  inter- 
jections and  exclamations  like  alas,  certes,   sure,  adieu; 
and  perhaps  verray  (later  very)  was  at  first  introduced 
as  an  exclamation.      Whole   phrases   were   adopted:   in 
the  Ancrene  Riwle  (about   1225)  we  find  (p.  268)   Deu- 
leset  (Dieu  le  sait)  in  two  manuscripts  while  a  third  has 
j     Crist  hit  wat;  and  three  hundred  years  later,  we  find  'As 
good  is  a  becke  (=  a  wink),  as  is  a  dewe  vow  garde*  (Bale, 
Three  Lawes  I.  1470).     As  John  of  Salisbury  (Johannes 
Sarisberiensis)   says   expressly   in   the   twelfth  century^, 
it    was     the    fashion    to    interlard    one's    speech    with 
f    French    words;    they  were  thought   modish,   and    that 
will  account  for    the    fact    that    many    non  -  technical 
ij     words  too  were  taken  over,  such  as  ai>,  flg^  (juridical.?), 
'     arrive   (military.?),   beast,   change,   cheer,   cover,   cry,   debt 
(juridical.?),  feeble,  large,  letter,  manner,  matter,  nurse  and 
nourish,  place,  point,  price,  reason,  turn,  use,  and  a  great 
many  other  everyday  words  of  very  extensive  employment. 
93.    If,    then,    the    English   adopted   so   many  French 
words  because   it   was   the  fashion   in  every  respect   to 
imitate  their   'betters',   we  are  allowed   to  connect  this 
adoption  of  non-technical  words  with  that  trait  of  their 
N    character  which  in  its  exaggerated  form  has  in  modern 
times   been   termed   snobbism  or   toadyism,    and   which 

1  Quoted  by  D.  Behrens,  Paul's  Grundriss  1-963- 


V.  The  French. 

has  made  certain  sections  of  the  English  people  more 
interested  in  the  births,  deaths  and  especially  marriages 
of  dukes  and  marquises  than  in  anything  else  outside 
their  own  small  personal  sphere. 

94.  But  when  we  trace  this  feature  of  snobbishness 
back  to  the  first  few  centuries  after  the  Norman  conquest, 
we  must  not  forget  that  there  were  great  differences,  so 
that  some  people  would  affect  many  French  words  and 
others  would  stick  as  far  as  possible  to  the  native  stock 
of  words.  We  see  this  difference  in  the  literary  works 
that  have  come  down  to  us.  In  Layamon's  'Brut',  written 
very  early  in  the  thirteenth  century  and  amounting  in 
all  to  more  than  56,000  short  lines,  the  number  of  words 
of  Anglo-French  origin  is  only  about  150.^  The  *Orr- 
mulum',  which  was  writter  perhaps  tw^enty  years  later, 
contains  more  than  20,000  lines,  yet  even  Kluge,  who 
criticizes  the  view  that  this  very  tedious  work  contains  no 
French  words,  has  not  been  able  to  find  in  it  more  than 
twenty  odd  words  of  French  origin.^  But  in  the  con- 
temporary prose  work  'Ancrene  Riwle',  we  find  on  200 
pages  about  500  French  words.  A  couple  of  centuries 
later,  it  would  be  a  much  harder  task  to  count  the  French 
words  in  any  author,  as  so  many  words  had  already  be- 
come part  and  parcel  of  the  English  language;  but  even 
then  one  author  used  many  more  than  another.  Chaucer 
undoubtedly  employs  a  far  greater  number  of  French 
words  than  most  other  writers  of  his  time.  Nor  would 
it  be  fair  to  ascribe  all  these  borrowings  to  what  I 
have  mentioned  as  snobbism;  the  greater  a  writer's 
familiarity    with    French    culture    and    literature,     the 


1  Skeat,   Principles   of  English    Etymology ,   IT  (1891)  p.  8; 
Morris,  Historical  Outl.  of  Engl.  Accidence  (1885)  p.  338. 

2  Kluge,  Das  franzosische  element  im  Orrmulum,  Englische 
Studien,  XXII  p.  179. 

Date  of  Adoption.  q3 

greater  would  be  his  temptation  to  introduce  French 
words  for  everything  above  the  commonplaces  of  daily  life. 
95.  The  following  table  shows  the  strength  of  the  in- 
flux of  French  words  at  different  periods;  it  comprises 
one  thousand  words  (the  first  hundred  French  words  in  the 
New  English  Dictionary  for  each  of  the  first  nine  letters 
and  the  first  50  for  /  and  /)  and  gives  the  half-century  to 
which  the  earliest  quotation  in  that  Dictionary  belongs.^ 

Before  1050    ....  2 

105 1 — 1 100 2 

iioi — 1150 I 

1151 — 1200 15 

1201 — 1250 64 

1251 — 1300 127 

1301 — 1350 120 

1351 — 1400 180 

1401 — 1450 70 

145 1 — 1500 ^^ 

I50I— 1550 84 

I55I— 1600 91 

I60I — 1650 69 

1651 — 1700 34 

1701 — 1750 24 

1751 — 1800 16 

1801 — 1850 23 

1851 — 1900 2 


I  I  have  followed  the  authority  of  the  same  Dictionary  also  in 
regard  to  the  question  of  the  origin  of  the  words,  reckoning  thus  as 
French  some  words  which  I  should,  perhaps,  myself  have  called 
Latin.  Derivative  words  that  have  certainly  or  probably  arisen  in 
English  (e.  g.  daintily,  damageable)  have  been  excluded,  as  also 
those  perfectly  unimportant  words  for  which  the  N.  E.  D.  gives  less 
than  five  quotations.  Most  of  them  cannot  really  be  said  to  have 
ever  belonged  to  the  English  language.  Cf.  also  R.  Mettig,  Die 
franz.    elemente    im   alt-  und   mittelengl.      Engl.  St.  41.  i76fF.) 



QA  V.  The  French. 

The  list  shows  conclusively  that  the  linguistic  in- 
fluence did  not  begin  immediately  after  the  conquest, 
and  that  it  was  strongest  in  the  years  125 1 — 1400,  to 
which  nearly  half  of  the  borrowings  belong  (42.7  p.  c). 
Further  it  will  be  seen  that  the  common  assumption 
that  the  age  of  Dryden  was  particularly  apt  to  intro- 
duce new  words  from  French  is  very  far  from  being  correct. 

96.  In  a  well-known  passage,  Robert  of  Gloucester 
(ab.  1300)  speaks  about  the  relation  of  the  two  lan- 
guages in  England:  'Thus,  he  says,  England  came  into 
Normandy's  hand;  and  the  Normans  at  that  time  iJ)o; 
it  is  important  not  to  overlook  this  word)  could  speak 
only  their  own  language,  and  spoke  French  just  as  they 
did  at  home,  and  had  their  children  taught  in  the  same 
manner,  so  that  people  of  rank  in  this  country  who 
came  of  their  blood  all  stick  to  the  same  language  that 
they  received  of  them,  for  if  a  man  knows  no  French 
people  will  think  little  of  him.  But  the  lower  classes 
still^  stick  to  English  and  to  their  own  language.  I 
imagine  there  are  in  all  the  world  no  countries  that  do 
not  keep  their  own  language  except  England  alone.  But 
it  is  well  known  that  it  is  the  best  thing  to  know  both 
languages,  for  the  more  a  man  knows  the  mpre  is  he 
worth.'  This  passage  raises  the  question:  How  did  com- 
mon people  manage  to  learn  so  many  foreign  words?  — 
and  how  far  did  they  assimilate  them? 

97.  In  a  few  cases  the  process  of  assimilation  was 
facilitated  by  the  fact  that  a  French  word  happened  to 
resemble  an  old  native  one;  this  was  sometimes  the 
natural  consequence  of  French  having  in  some  previous 
period  borrowed  the  corresponding  word  from  some  Ger- 

I  yute  'yet';  sometimes  curiously  mistranslated,  hold  to  their 
own  £^ood  speech. 


How  was  French  learnt?  nc 

manic  dialect.  Thus  no  one  can  tell  exactly  how  much 
modern  rich  owes  to  OE.  rice  'powerful,  rich'  and  how 
much  to  French  riche;  the  noun  (Fr.  and  ME.)  richesse 
(now  riches)  supplanted  the  early  ME.  richedom.  The 
old  native  verb  choose  was  supplemented  with  the  noun 
choice  from  Fr.  choix.  OE.  hergian  and  OFr.  herier^ 
harier,  run  together  in  Mod.  E.  harry;  OE.  hege  and  Fr. 
haie  run  together  in  hay  'hedge,  fence'.  It  is  difficult 
to  separate  two  main's,  one  of  which  is  OE.  mcegen 
'strength,  might'  and  the  other  OFr.  maine  (Latin  mag- 
nus]  the  root  of  both  words  is  ultimately  the  same),  cf. 
main  sea  and  main  force.  The  modern  gain  (noun  and 
verb)  was  borrowed  in  the  fifteenth  century  from  French 
{gain,  gaain;  gagner  gaaignier,  cf.  It.  guadagnare,  a  Ger- 
manic loan),  but  it  curiously  coincided  with  an  earlier 
noun  gain  (also  spelt  gein,  geyn,  gayne,  etc.,  oldest  form 
ga^henn),  which  meant  'advantage,  use,  avail,  benefit, 
i  remedy'  and  a  verb  gain  (gayne,  ge^^nenn)  'to  be  suit- 
able or  useful,  avail,  serve',  both  from  Old  Norse.  When 
French  isle  (now  He)  was  adopted,  it  could  not  fail  to 
remind  the  English  of  their  old  iegland.  Hand  and 
eventually  it  corrupted  the  spelling  of  the  latter  into  is- 
land, Neveu  (now  spelled  nephew)  recalled  OE.  nefa^ 
meneye  [menye,  Fr.  maisnie  'retinue,  troop')  recalled  many 
(OE.  menigeo),  and  lake,  the  old  lacu  'stream,  river. '^ 
There  is  some  confusion  between  Eng.  rest  (repose)  and 
OF.  rest  (remainder).  In  grammar,  too,  there  were  a  few 
correspondences,  as  when  nouns  had  the  voiceless  and 
the  corresponding  verbs  the  voiced  consonants;  French 
us  —  user,  now  use  sb.  pronounced  [ju's],  vb.  [j^'z]  just 
as  Eng.  house  sb.  [haus],  vb.  [hauz];  French  grief  — 
griever,  Eng.  grief  —  grieve  just  as  half  —  halve.  Note 
also  the  formation  of  nouns  in  -er  [baker,  etc.),  which  is 

I  This  is  still  the  meaning  of  lake  in  some  dialects. 



V.  The  French. 

hardly  distinguishable  from  French  formations  in  words 
like  carpenter  (Fr.  -ier),  interpreter  (ME.  interpretour,  Fr. 
-eur),  etc.  But  on  the  whole  such  more  or  less  accidental 
similarities  between  the  two  languages  were  few  in  num- 
ber and  could  not  materially  assist  the  English  popu- 
lation in  learning  the  new  words  that  were  flooding  their 

98.  A  greater  assistance  may  perhaps  have  been  de- 
rived from  a  habit  which  may  have  been  common  in  con- 
versational speech,  and  which  was  at  any  rate  not  un- 
common in  writing,  that  of  using  a  French  word  side 
by  side  with  its  native  synonym,  the  latter  serving  more 
or  less  openly  as  an  interpretation  of  the  former  for  the 
benefit  of  those  who  were  not  yet  familiar  with  the  more 
refined  expression.  Thus  in  the  Ancrene  Riwle  (ab. 
1225):  cherit6  )?et  is  luve  (p.  8)  |  in  desperaunce,  pet  is, 
in  unhope  &  in  unbileave  forte  beon  iboruwen  (p.  8)  | 
Understonde^  )?et  two  manere  temptaciuns  —  two  kunne 
vondunges — beo^  (p.  180)  |  pacience,  J^et  is  )?olemod- 
nesse  (ibid.)  |  lecherie,  pet  is,  golnesse  (p.  198)  |  igno- 
raunce,  pet  is  unwisdom  &  unwitenesse  (p.  278).  I  quote 
from  Behrens's  collection  of  similar  collocations^  the  follow- 
ing instances  that  prove  conclusively  that  the  native 
word  was  then  better  known  than  the  imported  one: 
bigamie  is  unkinde  [unnatural]  J^ing,  on  engleis  tale 
twiewifing  (Genesis  &  Exod.  449)  |  twelfe  iferan,  pe 
Freinsce  heo  cleopeden  dusze  pers  (Layamon  I.  I.  69)  ] 
J7at  craft:  to  lokie  in  J?an  lufte,  pe  craft  his  ihote  [is 
called]  astronomic  in  o]7er  kunnes  speche  [in  a  speech  of  a 
different  kind]  (ib.  II.  2.  598).  It  is  well  worth  observing 
that  in  all  these  cases  the  French  words  are  perfectly 
familiar  to  a  modern  reader,  while  he  will  probably  re- 

I  Franz.  Studien  V.  2  p,  8  Cf.  also   'of  whiche   tribe,   that 
is  to  seye,  kynrede  Jesu  Crist  was  bom'  (Maundeville  67). 

Tautology.  n  ^ 

quire  an  explanation  of  the  native  words  that  served 
then  to  interpret  the  others.  In  Chaucer  we  find  similar 
double  expressions,  but  they  are  now  introduced  for  a 
totally  different  purpose;  the  reader  is  evidently  sup- 
posed to  be  equally  familiar  with  both,  and  the  writer  uses 
them  to  heighten  or  strengthen  the  effect  of  the  style^; 
for  instance:  He  coude  songes  make  and  wel  endyte  (A  95) 
=  Therto  he  coude  endyte  and  make  a  thing  (A  325)  | 
faire  and  fetisly  (A  124  and  273)  |  swinken  with  his  handes 
and  laboure  (A  186)  |  Of  studie  took  he  most  cure  and 
most  hede  (A  303)  |  Poynaunt  and  sharp  (A  352)  |  At 
sessiouns  ther  was  he  lord  and  sire  (A  355). ^  In  Caxton 
this  has  become  quite  a  mannerism,  see,  e.  g.  I  shal  so 
awreke  and  avenge  this  trespace  (Reynard  56,  cf.  p.  116 
advenge  and  wreke  it)  1  in  honour  and  worship  (ib.  p.  56)  | 
olde  and  auncyent  doctours  (p.  62)  |  feblest  and  wekest 
(p.  64)  I   I  toke  a  glasse  or  a  mirrour  (p.  83)  |  Now  ye 

shal  here  of  the  mirrour  \  the  glas [P-  84)  |  good 

ne  prof[yt  (p,  86)  |  fowle  and  dishonestly  (p.  94)  |  prouffyt 
and  for  dele  (p.  103).  It  will  be  observed  that  with  the 
exception  of  the  last  word,  the  language  has  preserved 
in  all  cases  both  the  synonyms  that  Caxton  uses  side  by 
side,  so  that  we  may  consider  this  part  of  the  English 
vocabulary  as  settled  towards  the  end  of  the  fifteenth 

99.  Many  of  the  French  words,   such  as   cry,   claim, 
state,  poor,  change,  and,  indeed,  most  of  the  words  enu- 

'  1  This  use  of  two  expressions  for  the  same  idea  is  extremely 
:[  common  in  the  middle  ages  and  the  beginning  of  the  modem 
5  period,  and  it  is  not  confined  to  those  cases  where  one  was  a 
f  native  and  the  other  an  imported  word;  see  Kellner,  Engl. 
\  Studien  XX  p.  iiff.  (1895);  Greenough  and  Kittredge,  Words 
j  and  their  Ways,  p.  iisff.;  so  also  in  Danish,  see  ViHi.  Andersen 
:|  in  Dania  p.  86  ff.  (1890)  and  Danske  Studier  1893,  p.  jff. 
f  2  Cf.  also,  Curteys  he  was,  lowly,  and  servisable  (A  99);  Cur- 
'  teys  he  was,  and  lowly  of  servyse  (A  250). 

Jespersen:  English.    2nd  ed.  7 

gg  V,  The  French. 

merated  above,  (§  82 — 92),  and  one  might  say,  nearly 
all  the  words  taken  over  before  1350  and  not  a  few  of 
those  of  later  importation,  have  become  part  and  parcel 
of  the  English  language,  so  that  they  appear  to  us  all 
just  as  English  as  the  pre-Conquest  stock  of  native  words. 
But  a  great  many  others  have  never  become  so  popular. 
There  are  a  great  many  gradations  between  words  of 
everyday  use  and  such  as  are  not  at  all  understood  by  the 
common  people,  and  to  the  latter  class  may  sometimes 
belong  words  which  literary  people  would  think  familiar 
to  everybody.  Hyde  Clark  relates  an  anecdote  of  a 
clergyman  who  blamed  a  brother  preacher  for  using  the 
word  felicity  J  *I  do  not  think  all  your  hearers  understood 
it;  I  should  say  happiness.'  *I  can  hardly  think,'  said 
the  other,  'that  any  one  does  not  know  what  felicity 
means,  and  we  will  ask  this  ploughman  near  us.  Come 
hither,  my  man !  you  have  been  at  church  and  heard 
the  sermon;  you  heard  me  speak  of  felicity;  do  you  know 
what  it  means?'  *Ees,  sir!'  'Well,  what  does  felicity 
mean?'  'Summut  in  the  inside  of  a  pig,  but  I  can't  say 
altogether  what.'^  —  Note  also  the  way  in  which  Touch- 
stone addresses  the  rustic  in  As  You  Like  It  (V.  I.  52) 
'Therefore,  you  Clowne,  abandon,  —  which  is  in  the 
vulgar  leave,  —  the  societie  —  which  in  the  boorish  is 
companie,  —  of  this  female,  —  which  in  the  common  is 
woman;  which  together  is,  abandon  the  society  of  this 
Female,  or,  Clowne,  thou  perishest;  01,  to  thy  better 
understanding,  dyest.' 

100.  From  what  precedes  we  are  now  in  a  position 
to  understand  some  at  least  of  the  differences  that  have 
developed  in  course  of  time  between  two  synonyms  when 
both  have  survived,  one  of  them  native,  the  other  French. 


I  A  Grammar  of  the  English  Tongue.   4  th  ed.  London  1879. 


Synonyms.  ng 

The  former  is  always  nearer  the  nation's  heart  than  the 
latter,  it  has  the  strongest  associations  with  everything 
primitive,  fundamental,  popular,  while  the  French  word 
is  often  more  formal,  more  polite,  more  refined  and  has 
a  less  strong  hold  on  the  emotional  side  of  Hfe.  A  cottage 
is  finer  than  a  hut,  and  fine  people  often  live  in  a  cottage, 
at  any  rate  in  summer  'The  word  hill  was  too  vulgar 
and  famihar  to  be  apphed  to  a  hawk,  which  had  only  a 
heak  (the  French  term,  whereas  bill  is  the  A.  S.  bile), 
'Ye  shall  say,  this  hauke  has  a  large  beke,  or  a  short  beke, 
and  call  it  not  bille'  \  Book  of  St.  Alban's,  fol.  a  6,  back'.^ 
—  To  dress  means  to  adorn,  deck,  etc.,  and  thus  generally 
presupposes  a  finer  garment  than  the  old  word  to  clothe^ 
the  wider  signification  of  which  it  seems,  however,  to  be 
more  and  more  appropriating  to  itself.  Amity  means 
'friendly  relations,  especially  of  a  public  character  be- 
tween states  or  individuals',  and  thus  lacks  the  warmth  of 
friendship.  The  difference  between  help  and  aid  is  thus 
indicated  in  the  Funk-Wagnalls  Dictionary:  'Help  ex- 
presses greater  dependence  and  deeper  need  than  aid. 
In  extremity  we  say  'God  help  me!'  rather  than  'God 
aid  me !'  In  time  of  danger  we  cry  'help!  help!'  rather 
than  ^aid!  aid!'  To  aid  is  to  second  another's  own  exer- 
tions. We  can  speak  of  helping  the  helpless,  but  not  of 
aiding  them.  Help  includes  aid,  but  aid  may  fall  short 
of  the  meaning  of  help.'  All  this  amounts  to  the  same 
thing  as  saying  that  help  is  the  natural  expression,  be- 
longing to  the  indispensable  stock  of  words  and  there- 
fore possessing  more  copious  and  profounder  associations 
than  the  more  literary  and  accordingly  colder  word  aid. 
Folk  has  to  a  great  extent  been  superseded  by  people, 
chiefly,  I  suppose,  on  account  of  the  political  and  social 
employment    of    the  word;  Shakespeare  rarely  uses  folk 

I  Skeat,  The  Works  of  G.  Chaucer,  vol.  Ill  p.  261. 


lOo  ^  •  The  French. 

{4  times)  and  folks  (ten  times),  and  the  word  is  evidently 
a  low-class  word  with  him;  it  is  rare  in  the  Authorized 
Version,  and  Milton  never  uses  it;  but  in  recent  usage 
folk  seems  to  have  been  gaining  ground,  partly,  perhaps, 
from  antiquarian  and  dialectal  causes.  Hearty  and  cor- 
dial made  their  appearance  in  the  language  at  the  same 
time  (the  oldest  quotations  1380  and  1386,  NED.),  but 
where  they  signify  the  same  thing  their  force  is  not  the 
same,  for  *a  hearty  welcome'  is  warmer  than  'a  cordial 
welcome',  and  hearty  has  many  applications  that  cordial 
has  not  (heartfelt,  sincere;  vigorous:  a  hearty  slap  on 
the  back;  abundant:  a  hearty  meal),  etc.  Saint  smacks 
of  the  official  recognition  by  the  Catholic  Church,  while 
holy  refers  much  more  to  the  mind.  Matin(s)  is  used 
only  with  reference  to  church  service,  while  morning  is 
the  ordinary  word.  Compare  also  darling  with  favourite, 
deep  with  profound,  lonely  with  solitary,  indeed  with  in 
fact,  to  give  or  to  hand  with  to  present  or  to  deliver,  love 
with  charity,  etc. 

101.  In  some  cases  the  chief  difference  between  the 
native  word  and  the  French  synonym  is  that  the  former  is 
more  colloquial  and  the  latter  more  literary,  e.  g.  begin  — 
commence,  hide  —  conceal,  feed  —  nourish,  hinder  —  pre- 
vent, look  for  —  search  for,  inner  and  outer  —  interior 
and  exterior,  and  many  others.  In  a  few  cases,  however, 
the  native  word  is  more  literary.  Valley  is  the  everyday 
word,  and  dale  has  only  lately  been  introduced  into  the 
standard  language  from  the  dialects  of  the  hilly  northern 
counties.  Action  has  practically  supplanted  deed  in  ordi- 
nary language,  so  that  the  latter  can  be  reserved  for 
more  dignified  speech. 

102.  In  spite  of  the  intimate  contact  between  French 
and  English  it  sometimes  happens  that  French  words 
which  have  been  introduced  into  other  Germanic  lan- 
guages and  belong  to  their  everyday  vocabulary  are  not 

Colloquial  and '  literary.  ,  I O  i 

found  in  English  or  are  there  much  more  felt  to  be  foreign 
intruders  than  in  German  or  Danish.  This  is  true  for 
instance  of  friseur,  manchette,  replique,  of  gene  and  the 
verb  gener  (the  NED.  has  no  instances  of  it,  but  a  few 
are  found  in  the  Stanford  Diet.).  Serviette  is  rarer  than 
napkin.  Atelier  is  not  common;  it  occurs  in  Thackeray's 
The  Newcomes  p.  242,  where  immediately  afterwards 
the  familiar  word  studio  is  used:  did  EngHsh  artists  go 
more  to  Italy  and  less  to  Paris  to  learn  their  craft  than 
their  Scandinavian  and  German  confreres?  To  the  same 
class  belong  the  following  words,  which,  when  found  in 
English  books,  are  generally  indicated  to  be  foreign  by 

;    italic  letters:  na'ive^  bizarre,  and  motif,  —  the  last  word 

||    an  interesting  recent  doublet  of  motive. 

103.  As  the  grammatical  systems  of  the  two  languages 
were  very  different,  a  few  remarks  must  be  made  here 

I  about  the  form  in  which  French  words  were  adopted. 
Substantives  and  adjectives^were  nearly  always  taken 
over  in  the  accusative  case,  which  differed  in  most  words 
from  the  nominative  in  having  no  s.  The  latter  ending 
is,  however,  found  in  a  few  words,  such  as  fitz  (Fitzher- 
bert,  etc.;  in  French,  too,  the  nominative  fils  has  ousted 
the  old  ace.  fil',  fitz  is  an  Anglo-Norman  spelling),  fierce 
(0  Fr.  nom.  fiers,  ace.  fier),  and  James.^    In  the  plural, 

ll'  Old  French  had  a  nominative  without  any  ending  and 
an  accusative  in  -s,  and  English  popular  instinct  natur- 

I  But  Chaucer  Yizs  by  seint  Jame  (riming  with  name,  D.  1443). 
A  similar  vacillation  is  found  in  the  name  Steven  Stephen, 
where  now  the  j-less  form  has  prevailed,  but  where  formerly 
the  Fr.  nom.  was  also  found  (seynt  stevyns,  Malory  104).  — 
Where  the  French  inflexion  was  irregular,  owing  to  Latin 
stress  shifting,  etc.,  the  accusative  was  adopted,  in  emperof 
(■our,  O  Fr.  nom.  emperere),  companion  (O  Fr.  nom.  compain), 
neveu,  nephew  (O  Fr.  nom.  nies)  and  others,  but  the  nom.  is 
kept  in  stre  (O  Fr.  ace.  seigno?),  mayor  (O  Fr.  maire,  ace. 

IQ2  V.  The  French. 

ally  associated  the'  'latter  form  with  the  common 
English  plural  ending  in  -es.  In  course  of  time  those 
words  which  had  for  a  long  time,  in  English  as  in 
French,  formed  their  plural  without  any  ending 
(e.  -g.  cas)  were  made  to  conform  with  the  general  rule 
(sg.  case,  pi.  cases). ^  —  French  adjectives  had  the  s 
added  to  them  just  like  French  nouns,  and  we  find 
a  few  adjectives  with  the  plural  5,  as  in  the  goddes 
celestials  (Chaucer);  letters  patents  survived  as  a  fixed 
group  till  the  time  of  Shakespeare  (§  85).  But  the 
general  rule  was  to  treat  French  adjectives  exactly  like 
English  ones. 

104.  As  to  the  verbs,  the  rule  is  that  the  stem  of  the 
French  present  plural  served  as  basis  for  the  English 
form;  thus  (je  survis),  nous  survivons,  vous  survivez,  Us 
survivent  became  survive,  (je  resous),  resolvons,  etc.,  be- 
came resolve,  O  Fr.  (je  desjeun),  nous  disnons,  etc.,  be- 
came dine;  thus  is  explained  the  frequent  ending  -ish,  in 
punish,  finish,  etc.  English  hound  (to  leap),  accordingly, 
cannot  be  the  French  hondir,  which  would  have  yielded 
hondish,  but  is  an  English  formation  from  the  noun 
bound,  which  is  the  French  bond.  I  think  that  levy  is 
similarly  formed  on  the  noun  levy,  which  is  Fr.  levee;  but 
in  sally  the  y  represents  the  i  which  made  the  Fr.  //  mouilU. 
Where  the  French  infinitive  was  imported  it  was  generally 
in  a  substantival  function,  as  in  dinner,  remainder,  at- 
tainder, rejoinder,  cf.  the  verbs  dine,  remain,  attain, 
rejoin;  so  also  the  law  terms  merger,  user,  and  misnomer. 
Still  we  have  a  few  verbs  in  which  the  ending  -er  can 
hardly  be  anything  else  but  the  French  infinitive  ending: 
render  (which  is  thereby  kept  distinct  from  rend),  sur- 

I  Note  invoice,  trace  (part  of  a  horse's  harness),  and  quince, 
where  the  French  plural  ending  now  forms  part  of  the  English 
singular;  cf.  Fr.  envoi,  trait,  coign. 

Grammar.  103 

render,  tender  (where  the  doublet  tend  also  exists),  and 
perhaps  broider  (embroider) .  There  is  a  curious  parallel 
to  the  Norse  bask  and  busk  (79)  in  saunter,  where  the 
French  reflective  pronoun  has  become  fixed  as  an  insep- 
arable element  of  the  word,  from  s'auntrer,  another  form 
for  s'aventurer  'to  adventure  oneself. 

105.  French  words  have,  as  a  matter  of  course,  parti- 
cipated in  all  the  sound  changes  that  have  taken  place 
in  English  since  their  adoption.  Thus  words  with  the 
long  [i]  sound  have  had  it  diphthongized  into  [ai],  e.  g. 
fine,  price,  lion.  The  long  [u],  written  ou,  has  similarly- 
become  [au],  e.  g.  O  Fr.  espouse  (Mod.  Fr.  Spouse),  M.  E. 
spouse,  pronounced  [spu'za],  now  pron.  [spauz],  Fr.  tour, 
Mod.  E.  tower.  Compare  also  the  treatment  of  the 
vowels  in  grace,  change,  beast  (OFr.  beste),  ease  (Fr.  aise)^ 
etc.  Such  changes  of  loan-words  are  seen  everywhere: 
they  are  brought  about  gradually  and  insensibly.  But 
there  is  another  change  which  has  often  been  supposed 
to  have  come  about  in  a  different  manner.  A  great  many 
words  are  now  stressed  on  the  first  syllable  which  in 
French  were  stressed  on  the  final  syllable,  and  this  is 
often  ascribed  to  the  inability  of  the  English  to  imitate 
the  French  accentuation.  All  English  words,  it  is  said, 
had  the  stress  on  the  first  syllable,  and  this  habit  was 
unconsciously  extended  to  foreign  words  on  their  first 
adoption  into  the  language.  We  see  this  manner  of 
treating  foreign  words  in  Icelandic  at  the  present  day.  But 
the  explanation  does  not  hold  good  in  our  case.  English 
had  a  few  words  with  unstressed  first  syllable  [be-,  for-, 
etc.,  see  above,  §  25),  and  as  a  matter  of  fact,  French 
words  in  English  were  for  centuries  accented  in  the 
French  manner,  as  shown  conclusively  by  Middle  English 
poetry.  It  was  only  gradually  that  more  and  more 
words  had  their  accent  shifted  on  to  its  present  place. 
The  causes  of  this  shifting  were  the  same  as  are  else- 

J04  ^-  The  French. 

where  at  work  in  the  same  direction.^  In  many  words 
the  first  syllable  was  felt  as  psychologically  the  most  im- 
portant one,  as  in  punish,  finish,  matter,  manner,  royal, 
army  and  other  words  ending  with  meaningless  or  form- 
ative syllables.  The  initial  syllable  very  often  received 
the  accent  of  contrast.  In  modern  speech  we  stress  the 
otherwise  unstressed  syllables  to  bring  out  a  contrast 
clearly,  as  in  'not  oppose  but  suppose'  or  'If  on  the  one 
hand  speech  gives  ^;vpression  to  ideas,  on  the  other  hand 
it  receives  impressions  from  them'  (Romanes,  Mental 
Evolution  in  Man,  p.  238),  and  in  the  same  manner  we 
must  imagine  that  in  the  days  when  real,  formal,  object, 
subject  and  a  hundred  similar  words  were  normally  stressed 
on  the  last  syllable,  they  were  so  often  contrasted  with 
each  other  that  the  modern  accentuation  became  grad- 
ually the  habitual  one.  This  will  explain  the  accent  of 
January,  February,  cavalry,  infantry,  primary,  orient  and 
other  words.  An  equally  powerful  principle  is  rhythm, 
which  tends  to  avoid  two  consecutive  strong  syllables; 
compare  modern  go  down^stairs,  but  the  ^downstairs 
room,  St.  Paul's  church^yard,  but  the  ^churchyard  wall. 
Chaucer  stresses  many  words  in  the  French  manner, 
except  when  they  precede  a  stressed  syllable,  in  which 
case  the  accent  is  shifted,  thus  co^syn  (cousin),  but  ^cosyn 
^myn;  in  felici'te  par^flt,  but  a  ^verray  ^parfit  ^gentil  ^knight; 
severe  (secret),  but  in  hecre  wyse,  etc.  An  instructive  illus- 
tration is  found  in  such  a  line  as  this  (Cant.  Tales 
D  i486): 

In  'divers  'art  and  in  di'vers  fi'gures. 

These  principles — value-stressing,  contrast,  rhythm — 
will  explain  all  or  most  of  the  instances  in  which  Eng- 
lish has  shifted  the  French  stress;  but  it  is  evident  that 
it  took  a  very  long  time  before  the  new  forms  of  the 

I  See  the  detailed  exposition  in  my  Modern  English  Gram- 
mar (Heidelberg,  Carl  Winter)  1909  ch.  V. 

Accent;  Hybrids.  105 

words  which  arose  at  first  only  occasionally  through  their 
influence  were  powerful  enough  finally  to  supplant  the 
older  forms. ^ 

106.  Not  long  after  the  intrusion  of  the  first  French 
words  we  begin  to  see  the  first  traces  of  a  phenomenon 
which  was  to  attain  very  great  proportions  and  which 
must  now  be  termed  one  of  the  most  prominent  features 
of  the  language,  namely  hybridism.  Strictly  speaking, 
we  have  a  hybrid  (a  composite  word  formed  of  elements 
from  different  languages)  as  soon  as  an  English  inflexion- 
al ending  is  added  to  a  French  word,  as  in  the  genitive 
the  Duke's  children  or  the  superlative  noblest,  etc.,  and 
from  such  instances  we  rise  by  insensible  gradations  to 
others,  in  which  the  fusion  is  more  surprising.  From 
the  very  first  we  find  verbal  nouns  in  -ing  or  -ung  formed 
from  French  verbs  (indeed,  they  are  found  at  a  tim.e 
when  they  could  not  be  formed  from  every  native  verb, 
§  200),  e.  g.  prechinge;  riwlunge  (Ancrene  Riwle);  scor- 
nunge  and  servinge  (Layamon) ;  spusinge  (Owl  &  N.), 
Other  instances  of  English  endings  added  to  French  words 
are  faintness  (from  the  end  of  the  fourteenth  century), 
closeness  (half  a  century  later),  secretness  (Chaucer  se- 
creenesse  B  773),  simpleness  (Shakespeare  and  others), 
materialness  (Ruskin),  ahnormalness  (Benson)^  etc.  Fur- 
ther, a  great  many  adjectives  in  -ly  (courtly,  princely,  etc.) 
and,  of  course,  innumerable  adverbs  with  the  same  en- 
ding (faintly,  easily,  nobly);  adjectives  in  -ful  (beautiful, 
dutiful,  powerful,  artful)  and  -less  (artless,  colourless); 
nouns  in  -ship  (courtship,  companionship)  and  -dom 
(dukedom,  martyrdom)  and  so  forth. 

I  In  recent  borrowings  the  accent  is  not  shifted,  of. 
machine,  intrigue,  where  the  retention  of  the  French  /-sound 
is  another  sign  that  the  words  are  of  comparatively  modem 

lo6  V.  The  French. 

107.  While  hybrid  words  of  this  kind  are  found  in 
comparatively  great  numbers  in  most  languages,  hybrids 
of  the  other  kind,  i.  e.  composed  of  a  native  stem  and 
a  foreign  ending,  are  in  most  languages  much  rarer  than 
in  English.    Before  such  hybrids  could  be  formed,  there 
must  have  been  already  in  the  language  so  great  a  num- 
ber of  foreign  words  with  the  same  ending  that  the  form- 
ation would  be  felt  to   be  perfectly  transparent.    Here 
are  to  be  mentioned  the  numerous  hybrids  in  -ess  (shep- 
herdess, goddess;  Wycliffe  has  dwelleresse;  in  a  recent 
volume  I  have  found  'seeress  and  prophetess'),  in  -ment 
(endearment  and  enlightenment  are  found  from  the  17th 
century,  but  bewilderment  not  before  the  19th;  wonder- 
ment, frequent  in  Thackeray;  oddment,  R.  Kipling,  hut- 
ment),   in    -age    (mileage,    acreage,    leakage,    shrinkage, 
wrappage,  breakage,  cleavage,  roughage,  shortage,  etc.); 
in  -ance  (hindrance,  used  in  the  fifteenth  century  in  the 
meaning   'injury';   in   the  signification   now  usual   it   is 
found  as  early  as  1526,  and  perhaps  we  may  infer  from 
its  occurring  neither  in  the  Bible,   nor  in  Shakespeare, 
Milton,  and  Pope,  that  it  was  felt  to  be  a  bastard,  though 
Locke,  Cowper,  Wordsworth,  Shelley,  and  Tennyson  ad- 
mit  it;    forbearance,    originally   a   legal   term;    further- 
ance);  in  -ous  (murderous;   thunderous;   slumberous   is 
used  by  Keats  and  Carlyle);  in  -ry  (fishery,  bakery,  etc.; 
gossipry,    Mrs.    Browning;    Irishry;   forgettery  jocularly 
formed  after  memory);  in  -ty  (oddity,  womanity  nonce- 
word  after  humanity):  in  -fy  (fishify,  Shakespeare;  snug- 
gify,   Ch,  Lamb;  Torify,   Ch.   Darwin;  scarify,  Fielding; 
tipsify,  Thackeray;     funkify;  speechify^  with  the  corre-   {^ 
sponding  nouns  in  -fication  (uglification,  Shelley).'^ 

1  Cf.  also  'Daphne  —  before  she  was  happily  treeified',  Lowell, 
Fable  for  Critics. 

2  See    below    on    hybrids    with    Latin    and    Greek    endings 

(S  123). 


Hybridism.  1 07 

108.  One  of  the  most  fertile  English  derivative  endings 
is  -able,  which  has  been  used  in  a  great  number  of 
words  besides  those  French  ones  which  were  taken 
over  ready  made  (such  as  agreeable^  variable,  tolerable). 
In  comparatively  few  cases  it  is  added  to  substantives 
(serviceable,  companionable ,  marriageable,  peaceable, 
seasonable).  Its  proper  sphere  of  usefulness  is  in 
forming  adjectives  from  verbs,  rarely  in  an  active 
sense  [suitable  =  that  suits,  unshrinkable),  but  generally 
in  a  passive  sense  {bearable  =  that  can  or  may  be 
borne).  Thus  we  have  now  drinkable,  eatable,  steer  able 
(balloons) ,  weavable ,  unutterable ,  answerable ,  punish- 
able, unmistakable,  etc.,  and  hundreds  of  others,  so 
that  everybody  has  a  feeling  that  he  is  free  to  form  a 
new  adjective  of  this  kind  as  soon  as  there  is  any 
necessity  for,  or  convenience  in,  using  it,  just  as  he 
feels  no  hesitation  in  adding  -ing  to  any  verb,  new  or 
old.  And  of  course,  no  one  ever  objects  to  these  ad- 
jectives (or  the  corresponding  nouns  in  -ability)  because 
they  are  hybrids  or  bastards,  any  more  than  one  would 
object  to  forms  like  acting  or  remembering  on  the  same 

109.  These  adjectives  have  now  become  so  indispen- 
sable that  the  want  is  even  felt  of  forming  them  from 
composite  verbal  expressions,  such  as  get  at.  But  though 
get-at-able  and  come-at-able  are  pretty  frequently  heard 
in  conversation,  most  people  shrink  from  writing  or  print- 
ing them.  Sterne  has  come- at- ability.  Smiles  get-at- 
ability,  and  George  Eliot  in  a  letter  knock-upable.  Tenny- 
son, too,  writes  in  a  jocular  letter,  'thinking  of  you  as 
no  longer  the  comeatable  runupableto,  smokeablewith 
J.  S.  of  old.'  Note  here  the  place  of  the  preposition  in 
the  last  two  adjectives,  and  compare  'enough  to  make 
the  house  unliveable  in  for  a  month'  (The  Idler,  May 
1892,  366)  and  'the  husband  being  fairly  good-natured 

Io8  V.  The  French. 

and  livable-with'  (Bernard  Shaw,  Ibsenism  41).  It  is 
obvious  that  these  adjectives  are  too  clumsy  to  be  ever 
extensively  used  in  serious  writing.  But  there  is  an- 
other way  out  of  the  difficulty  which  is  really  much  more 
conformable  to  the  genius  of  the  language,  namely  to 
leave  out  the  preposition  in  all  those  cases  where  there 
can  be  no  doubt  of  the  preposition  understood.  Unac- 
countable {=  that  cannot  be  accounted  for)  has  long 
been  accepted  by  everybody;  I  have  found  it,  for 
instance,  in  Congreve,  Addison,  Swift,  Goldsmith,  De 
Quincey,  Miss  Austen,  Dickens  and  Hawthorne. 
Indispensable  has  been  —  well,  indispensable,  for  two 
centuries  and  a  half.  Laughable  is  used  by  Shake- 
speare, Dryden,  Carlyle,  Thackeray,  etc.  Dependable, 
disposable ,  and  available  are  in  general  use.^  All  this 
being  granted,  it  is  difficult  to  see  why  reliable  should 
be  the  most  abused  word  of  the  English  language. 
It  is  certainly  formed  in  accordance  with  the  funda- 
mental laws  of  the  language;  it  is  short  and  unam- 
biguous, and  what  more  should  be  needed.?  Those 
who  measure  a  word  by  its  age  will  be  glad  to  hear 
that  Miss  Mabel  Peacock  has  found  it  in  a  letter, 
bearing  the  date  of  1624,  from  the  pen  of  the  Rev. 
Richard  Mountagu,  who  eventually  became  a  bishop. 
And  those  who  do  not  like  using  a  word  unless  it  has 
been  accepted  by  great  writers  will  find  a  formidable 
array  of  the  best  names  in  Fitzedward   Hall's  list^  of 

1  Miss  Austen  writes,  'There  will  be  work  for  five  sum- 
mers before  the  place  is  liveable  (Mansf.  Park  216)  =  the 
above-mentioned  liveable- in.  Cf.  below  gazee  and  others  in 
-ee  (§  III)  The  principle  of  formation  is  the  same  as  in 
Tvaite?  'he  who  waits  on  people',  calle?  'he  who  calls  on 
some  one'. 

2  On  English  Adjectives  in  -able,  with  special  reference  to 
reliable.  London  1877.  Fitzedward  Hall  reverted  to  the  sub- 
ject on  several  other  occasions. 


Reliable.  lOO 

authors  who  have  used  the  word.^  It  is  curious  to  note 
that  the  word  which  is  always  extolled  at  the  expense  of 
reliable  as  an  older  and  nobler  word,  namely  trustworthy, 
is  really  much  younger:  at  any  rate,  I  have  not  been  able 
to  trace  it  further  back  than  the  beginning  of  the  nine- 
teenth century;  besides,  any  impartial  judge  will  find 
its  sound  less  agreeable  to  the  ear  on  account  of  the 
consonant  group  —  stw  —  and  the  heavy  second 

110.  Fitzedward  Hall  in  speaking  about  the  recent 
word  aggressive^  says,  'It  is  not  at  all  certain  whether 
the  French  agressif  suggested  aggressive^  or  was  suggest- 
ed by  it.  They  may  have  appeared  independently  of 
each  other/  The  same  remark  applies  to  a  great  many 
other  formations  on  a  French  or  Latin  basis;  even  if  the 
several  components  of  a  word  are  Romance,  it  by  no 
means  follows  that  the  word  was  first  used  by  a  French- 
man. On  the  contrary,  the  greater  facility  and  the  greater 
boldness  in  forming  new  words  and  turns  of  expression 
which  characterizes  English  generally  in  contradistinction 
to  French,  would  in  many  cases  speak  in  favour  of  the 
assumption  that  an  innovation  is  due  to  an  English  mind. 
This  I  take  to  be  true  with  regard  to  dalliance,  which  is 
i  so  frequent  in  ME.  [dalyaunce,  etc.)  while  it  has  not  been 
recorded  in  French  at  all.  The  wide  chasm  between  the 
most    typical    Enghsh    meaning   of   sensible   (a   sensible 

1  Coleridge,  Sir  Robert  Peel,  John  Stuart  Mill,  Abp.  Long- 
ley,  Samuel  Wilberforce ,  Dickens,  Charles  Reade,  Walter  Bage- 
hot,  Anthony  Trollope,  R.  A.  Proctor,  Harriet  Martineau,  Car- 
dinal Newman,  Gladstone,  James  Martineau,  S.  Baring-Gould, 
Sir  G.  O.  Trevelyan,  Sir  Monier  Williams,  Sir  Leslie  Stephen,  H. 
Maudsley,  Saintsbury,  Henry  Sweet,  Robinson  Ellis,  Thomas 
Arnold.  In  America,  Washington  Irving,  Daniel  Webster,  Edw. 
Everett,  G.  P.  Marsh;  I  leave  out,  rather  arbitrarily  I  fear,  six- 
teen of  the  names  given  by  Fitzedward  Hall. 

2  Modem  English  314. 

I  lo  V.  The  French. 

man,  a  sensible  proposal)  and  those  meanings  which  it 
shares  with  French  sensible  and  Lat.  sensibilis,  probably  J 
shows  that  in  the  former  meaning  the  word  was  an  in- 
dependent English  formation.  Duration  as  used  by- 
Chaucer  may  be  a  French  word;  it  then  went  out  of  the 
language,  and  when  it  reappeared  after  the  time  of  Shake- 
speare, it  may  just  as  well  have  been  re-formed  in  Eng- 
land as  borrowed;  duratio  does  not  seem  to  have  existed 
in  Latin.  Intensitas  is  not  a  Latin  word,  and  intensity  is 
older  than  intensite. 

111.  In  not  a  few  cases,  the  English  soil  has  proved 
more  fertilizing  than  the  French  soil  from  which  words 
were  transplanted.  In  French,  for  instance,  mutin  has 
fewer  derivatives  than  in  English,  where  we  have  mutine 
sb.,  mutine  vb.  (Shakespeare),  mutinous,  mutinously, 
mutinousness,  mutiny  sb.,  mutiny  vb.,  mutineer  sb.,  mu- 
tineer vb.,  mutinize,  of  which  it  is  true  that  mutine  and  , 
mutinize  are  now  extinct.  We  see  the  same  thing  in  such 
a  recent  borrowing  as  clique,  which  stands  alone  in  French  ^ 
while  in  English  two  centuries  have  provided  us  with 
cliquedom,  cliqueless,  cliquery,  cliquomania,  cliqiiomaniac, 
clique,  vb,,  cliquish,  cliquishness,  cliquism,  cliquy  or  cli- 
quey. From  due  we  have  duty,  to  which  no  French  cor- 
respondent word  has  been  found  in  France  itself,  although 
duete,  duity,  dewetS  are  found  in  Anglo-French  writers; 
in  English  duty  is  found  from  the  13th  century,  and  we 
have  moreover  duteous,  dutiable,  dutied,  dutiful,  dutifullyf 
dutifulness,  dutiless,  none  of  which  appear  to  be  older 
than  the  i6th  century.  Aim,  the  noun  as  well  as  the 
verb,  is  now  among  the  most  useful  and  indispensable 
words  in  the  English  vocabulary  and  it  has  some  deriva- 
tives, such  as  aimer,  aimful,  and  aimless,  but  in  French 
the  two  verbs  from  which  it  originates,  esmer  <  Lat. 
aestimare,  and  aasmer,  <  Lat.  adaestimare,  have  totally  .1 
disappeared.    Note  also  the  differentiations  of  the  words 


English  Formations.  ill 

strange  and  estrange;'^  of  entry  (<  Fr.  entree^)  and  entrance^ 
while  in  French  entrance  has  been  given  up;  and  the  less 
perfect  one  of  guaranty  (action)  and  guarantee  (person), 
not  to  speak  of  warrant  and  warranty.  The  extent  to 
which  foreign  speech-material  has  been  turned  to 
account  is  really  astonishing,  as  is  seen,  perhaps,  most 
clearly  in  the  extensive  use  of  the  derivative  ending  -ee. 
This  was  originally  the  French  participial  ending  -e  used 
in  a  very  few  cases  such  as  apele^  E.  appellee  as  opposed 
to  apelor,  E.  appellor,  nominee,  presentee,  etc.  and  then 
gradually  extended  in  legal  use  to  words  in  which  such 
a  formation  would  be  prohibited  in  French  by  formal  as 
well  as  syntactical  reasons:  vendee  is  the  man  to  whom 
something  is  sold  (I'homme  ^  qui  on  a  vendw  quelque 
chose),  cf.  also  referee,  lessee,  trustee,  etc.  Now,  these 
formations  are  no  longer  restricted  to  juridical  language, 
and  in  general  literature  there  is  some  disposition  to  turn 
this  ending  to  account  as  a  convenient  manner  of  forming 
passive  nouns;    Goldsmith  and    Richardson  have   lovee, 

Sterne  speaks  of  'the  mortgager  and  mortgagee the 

jester  and  jestee';  further  the  gazee  (De  Quincey)  =  the 
one  gazed  at,  staree  (Edgeworth),  cursee  and  laughee 
(Carlyle),  flirtee,  floggee,  wishee,  bargainee,  beatee,  examineCf 
callee  (our  callee  =  the  man  we  call  on),  etc.  Such  a 
word  as  trusteeship  is  eminently  characteristic  of  the 
composite  character  of  the  language:  Scandinavian 
trust  +  a  French  ending  used  in  a  manner  unparalleled 
!J    in  French  -|-  an  old  English  ending. 

112,  French  influence  has  not  been  restricted  to  one 
particular  period  (see  §  95),  and  it  is  interesting  to  com- 

1  Compare  also  the  juridical  estray  and  the  ordinary  stray, 
estate  and  state. 

2  This  word  has  recently  been  re -adopted:  entree  'made -dish 
served  between  the  chief  courses'. 

J  I  2  V.  The  French. 

pare  the  forms  of  old  loan-words  with  those  of  recent 
ones,  in  which  we  can  recognize  traces  of  the  changes  ^ 
the  French  language  has  undergone  since  medieval  times. 
Where  a  ch  in  an  originally  French  word  is  pronounced 
as  in  change,  chaunt,  etc.  (with  the  sound-group  tj),  the  y 
loan  is  an  old  one;  where  it  is  sounded  as  in  champagne  \ 
(with  simple  p,  we  have  a  recent  loan.  Chief  is  thus 
shown  to  belong  to  the  first  period,  while  its  doublet 
chef  (=  chef  de  cuisine)  is  much  more  modern.  It  is 
curious  that  two  petnames  should  now  be  spelled  in  the 
same  way  Charlie,  although  they  are  distinct  in  pro- 
nunciation: the  masculine  is  derived  from  the  old  loan 
Charles  and  has,  therefore,  the  sound  [tJ],  the  feminine 
is  from  the  recent  loan  Charlotte  with  [fj.  Similar^  g  as 
in  giant  and  /  as  in  jaundice  [pronounced  d^]  are  indicative 
of  old  loans,  while  the  pronunciation  [^]  is  only  found  in 
modern  adoptions,  such  as  rouge.  Sometimes,  however, 
recent  loans  are  made  to  conform  to  the  old  practice; 
jaunty,  gentle  and  genteel  represent  three  layers  of  borrow- 
ing from  the  same  word,  but  they  have  all  of  them  the 
same  initial  sound.  Other  instances  of  the  same  French 
word  appearing  in  more  than  one  shape  according  to  its 
age  in  English  are  saloon  and  salon,  suit  and  suite,  liquor 
and  liqueur,  rout  'big  party,  retreat'  and  route  (the  diph- 
thong in  the  former  word  is  an  English  development  of 
the  long  [u]  §  105),  quart,  pronounced  [kwo"t],  and  quart 
pronounced  [ka"t]  'a  sequence  of  four  cards  in  piquet', 
of.  also  quarte  or  carte  in  fencing. 

113.  In  some  cases,  we  witness  a  curious  re-shaping 
of  an  early  French  loan-word,  by  which  it  is  made  more 
like  the  form  into  which  the  French  has  meanwhile  de- 
veloped. This,  of  course,  can  only  be  explained  by  the 
uninterrupted  contact  between  the  two  nations.  Chaucer 
had  viage  just  as  Old  French,  but  now  the  word  is  voyage; 
leal  has  given  way  to  loyal;  the  noun  flaute  and  the  verb 

Early  and  Recent  Loans.  1 1  7 

fioyten  are  now  made  into  flute  like  mod.  Fr.  fluted  Sim- 
ilarly the  signification  of  ME.  douten  like  that  of  OFr. 
douter  was  'to  fear'  (cf.  redoubt)^  but  now  in  both  lan- 
guages this  signification  has  disappeared.  Danger  was  at 
first  adopted  in  the  Old  French  sense  of  'dominion, 
power',  but  the  present  meaning  was  developed  in  France 
before  it  came  to  England.  The  many  parallelisms  in  the 
employment  of  cheer  and  Fr.  chere  could  not  very  well 
have  arisen  independently  in  both  languages  at  once.  This 
continued  contact  constitutes  a  well-marked  contrast  be- 
tween the  French  and  the  Scandinavian  influence,  which 
seems  to  have  been  broken  off  somewhat  abruptly  after 
the  Norman  conquest. 

I  Cf.  below  the  Latinizing  of  many  French  words  §  1 16. 


Jbsperskn:  English.  2nd  ed.  g 

Chapter  VL 

Latin  and  Greek. 

114.   Although  Latin   has   been  read   and   written  in  ^ 
England  from  the  Old  English  period  till  our  own  days,   ' 
so  that  there  has  been  an  uninterrupted  possibility  of  |j 
Latin  influence  on  the  English  language,  yet  we  may  with 
comparative  ease  separate  the  latest  stratum  of  loans 
from  the  two  strata^  that  we  have  already  considered.    It 
embodies  especially  abstract  or  scientific  words,  adopted 
exclusively  through  the  medium  of  writing  and  never 
attaining  to  the  same  degree  of  popularity  as  words  be- 
longing to  the  older  strata.    The  words  adopted  are  not 
all  of  Latin  origin,  there  are  perhaps  more  Greek  than 
Latin  elements  in  them,  if  we  count  the  words  in  a  big 
dictionary.     Still  the  more  important  words  are  Latin, 
and  most  of  the  Greek  words  have  entered  into  English 
through  Latin,  or  have,  at  any  rate,  been  Latinized  m 
spelling  and  endings  before  being  used  in  English,  so  that 
we  have  no  occasion  here  to  deal  separately  with  the  two 
stocks.     The  great  historical  event,  without  which  thisd 
influence  would   never  have  assumed   such  gigantic  di- 
mensions,  was  the  revival  of  learning.     Through   Italy  il| 
and  France  the  Renaissance  came  to  be  felt  in  England 
as  early  as  the  fourteenth  century,  and  since  then  the 
invasion  of  classical  terms  has  never  stopped,  although 
the   multitude   of   new  words    introduced   was   greater, 
perhaps,  in  the  fourteenth,  the  sixteenth  and  the   nine- 

The  Renaissance.  I  j  c 

teenth  than  in  the  intervening  centuries.  The  same  in- 
fluence is  conspicuous  in  all  European  languages,  but  in 
English  it  has  been  stronger  than  in  any  other  language, 
French  perhaps  excepted.  This  fact  cannot,  I  think,  be 
principally  due  to  any  greater  zeal  for  classical  learning 
on  the  part  of  the  English  than  of  other  nations.  The 
reason  seems  rather  to  be,  that  the  natural  power  of 
resistance  possessed  by  a  Germanic  tongue  against  these 
alien  intruders  had  been  already  broken  in  the  case  of 
the  English  language  by  the  wholesale  importation  of 
French  words.  They  paved  the  way  for  the  Latin  words 
which  resembled  them  in  so  many  respects,  and  they  had 
already  created  in  English  minds  that  predilection  for 
foreign  words  which  made  them  shrink  from  consciously 

I  coining  new  words  out  of  native  material.  If  French 
words  were  more  distingues  than  English  ones,  Latin 
words  were  still  more  so,  for  did  not  the  French  them- 
selves go  to  Latin  to  enrich  their  own  vocabulary.?  The 
first  thing  noticeable   about  this   cJass  of  Latin  importa- 

i  tion  is,  therefore,  that  it  cannot  be  definitely  separated 
from  the  French  loans. 

115.  A  great  many  words  may  with  equal  right  be 
1  ascribed  to  French  and  to  Latin,  since  their  English  form 
I  would  be  the  same  in  both  cases  and  the  first  users  would 
I  probably  know  both  languages.     This  is  especially  the 

case  with  those  words  which  in  French  are  not  popular 
*  survivals  of  spoken  Latin  words,  but  later  borrowings 
t  from  literary  Latin,  mots  savants,  as  Brachet  termed  them 
j  in  contradistinction  to  mots  populaires.  As  examples  of 
[words  that  may  have  been  taken  from  either  language, 
\  I  shall  mention  only  grave,  gravity,  consolation,  solid, 
Hnfidel,  infernal,  position. 

116.  A  curious  consequence  of  the  Latin  influence  during 
jand  after  the  Renaissance  was  that  quite  a  number  of 
'French  words  were  remodelled   into   closer  resemblance 



1 1 5  VI.  Latin  and  Greek. 

with  their  Latin  originals.  Chaucer  uses  descrive  (riming 
with  on  lyve  'alive'  H.  121;  still  in  Scotch),  but  in  the 
1 6th  century  the  form  describe  makes  its  appearance. 
Perfet  and  parfet  (Fr.  perfait,  parfait)  were  the  normal 
English  forms  for  centuries.  Milton  writes  perfeted 
(Areop.  10);  but  the  c  was  introduced  from  the  Latin, 
at  first  in  spelling  only,  but  afterwards  in  pronunciation 
as  well.^  Similarly  verdit  has  given  way  to  verdict.  Where 
Chaucer  had  peynture  as  in  French  (peinture),  picture  is 
now  the  established  form.  The  Latin  prefix  ad  is  now 
seen  in  advice  and  adventure,  while  Middle  English  had 
avis  [avys)  and  aventure.  The  latter  form  is  still  retained 
in  the  phrase  at  aventure,  where  however,  a  has  been 
apprehended  as  the  indefinite  article  (at  a  venture),  and 
another  remnant  of  the  old  form  is  disguised  in  saunter 
(Fr.  s'aventurer  *to  adventure  oneself).  Avril  (avrille) 
has  been  Latinized  into  April;  and  a  modern  reader  doe  s 
not  easily  recognize  his  February  in  ME.  feouerele  or 
feou£rrere^  (u  =  v,  cf.  fivrier).  In  debt  and  doubt,  which 
used  to  be  dette  and  doute  as  in  French,  the  spelling  only 
has  been  affected;  compare  also  victuals  for  vittles  (Fr. 
vitailles,  cf.  battle  from  bataille).  Similarly  bankerota  [cf. 
Italian),  banqueroute,  bankrout  (Shakesp.)  had  to  give 
way  to  bankrupt;  the  oldest  example  of  the  p-form  in  the 
NED.  dates  from  1533.  The  form  langage  was  used  for 
centuries,  before  it  became  language  by  a  curious  crossing 
of  French  and  Latin  forms.  Egal  was  for  more  than  two 
centuries  the  commoner  form;  equal,  now  the  only  re-  |l 
cognized  form,  was  apparently  a  more  learned  form  and  J 
was  used  for  instance  in  Chaucer's  Astrolabe,  while  in  his 
poems  he  writes  egal;  Shakespeare  generally  has  equal,    * 

1  Bacon  writes  {New  Atlantis  15):  all  nations  have  enter- 
knowledge  one  of  another.  In  recent  similar  words  inter-  is  al- 
ways used. 

2  Juliana  p.  78 ,  79.  , 


Remodelling  of  French  Words.  117 

but  egal  is  found  a  few  times  in  some  of  the  old  editions 
of  his  plays.  Tennyson  tries  to  re-introduce  egality  by  the 
side  of  equality,  not  as  an  ordinary  word,  however,  but 
as  applied  to  France  specially  (That  cursed  France  with 
her  egalities  !'  Aylmer's  Field).  French  and  Latin  forms 
coexist,  more  or  less  differentiated,  in  complaisance  and 
complacence  (complacency),  genie  (rare)  and  genius,  base 
and  basis  (Greek).  Certainty  (Fr.)  and  certitude  (Lat.)  are 
often  used  indiscriminately,  but  there  is  now  a  tendency 
to  restrict  the  latter  to  merely  subjective  certainty,  as  in 
Cardinal  Newman's  'my  argument  is:  that  certitude  was 
a  habit  of  mind,  that  certainty  was  a  quality  of  proposi- 
tions; that  probabilities  which  did  not  reach  to  logical 
certainty,  might  suffice  for  a  mental  certitude',  etc.^  — 
Note  also  the  curious  difference  made  between  critic  with 
stress  on  the  first  syllable,  adjective^  and  nomen  agentis 
(from  Lat.,  or  Greek  direct.?  or  through  French.?)  and 
critique  with  stress  on  the  second  syllable,  nomen  actionis 
(late  borrowing  from  Fr.);  Pope  uses  critick'd  as  a  parti- 
ciple (stress  on  the  first),  while  a  verb  critique  with  stress 
on  the  last  syllable  is  found  in  recent  use ;  criticize,  which 
since  Milton  has  been  the  usual  verb,  is  a  pseudo-Greek 

117.  Intricate  relations  between  French  and  Latin  are 
sometimes  shown  in  derivatives:  colour  is  from  French, 
as  is  evident  from  the  vowel  in  the  first  syllable  [a];  but 
in  discoloration  the  second  syllable  is  sometimes  made 
[kol]  as  from  Latin,  and  sometimes  (kAl]  as  from  French. 
Compare  also  example  from  French,  exemplary  from  Latin. 
Machine  with  machinist  and  machinery  are  from  the 
French,  witness  the  pronunciation  [me'ji'n];  but  machinate 

1  Apologia  pro   Vita  sua.     New   impression,   London   1900 
p.  20. 

2  With  the  by -form  criticaL 

1 1 8  VI.  Latin  and  Greek. 

and  machination  are  taken  direct  from  Latin  and  accord- 
ingly pronounced  [maekineit,  maeki'neijan];  so  these  two 
groups  which  ought  by  nature  to  belong  together  are  I 
kept  apart,  and  no  one  knows  whether  the  adjective 
machinal  should  go  with  one  or  the  other  group,  some 
dictionaries  pronouncing  [m9'j'i'n9l]  and  others  ['maekinal] 
—  a  suggestive  symptom  of  the  highly  artificial  state  of 
the  language ! 

118.  It  would  be  idle  to  attempt  to  indicate  the  number 
of  Latin  and  Greek  words  in  the  English  language,  as 
each  new  treatise  on  a  scientific  subject  adds  to  their 
number.  But  it  is  interesting  to  see  what  proportion  of 
the  Latin  vocabulary  has  passed  into  English.  Professors 
J.  B.  Greenough  and  G.  L.  Kittredge  have  counted  the 
words  beginning  with  A  in  Harper's  Latin  Dictionary, 
excluding  proper  names,  doublets,  parts  of  verbs,  and 
adverbs  in  -e  and  -ter.  'Of  the  three  thousand  words  there  - 
catalogued,  one  hundred  and  fifty-four  (or  about  one  in 
twenty)  have  been  adopted  bodily  into  our  language  in 
some  Latin  form,  and  a  little  over  five  hundred  have 
some  English  representative  taken,  or  supposed  to  be 
taken,  through  the  French.  Thus  we  have  in  the  English 
vocabulary  about  one  in  four  or  five  of  all  the  words 
found  in  the  Latin  lexicon  under  A.  There  is  no  reason 
to  suppose  that  this  proportion  would  not  hold  good 
approximately  for  the  whole  alphabet.'^ 

119.  It  must  not  be  imagined  that  all  the  Latin  words 
as  used  in  English  conform  exactly  with  the  rules  of 
Latin  pronunciation  or  with  the  exact  classical  meanings. 
'My  instructor,  says  Fitzedward  HalP,  took  me  to  task  \\ 

1  Words  mia  their  Ways,   1902,  p.  106. 

2  Fitzedward   Hall,    Two    Trifles.      Printed  for  the  Author 
1895.     I  have  changed  his   symbol  for  stress,   indicating  here   i^ 
as    elsewhere    the    beginning    of    the    strong     syllable    by    a 
prefixed  1  . 

Deviations  from  Latin. 


for  saying  ^doctrinal.  'Where  an  English  word  is  from 
Latin  or  Greek,  you  should  always  remember  the  stress 
in  the  original,  and  the  quantity  of  the  vowels  there.' 
I  replied:  'If  others,  in  their  solicitude  to  pro^pagate  re- 
finement, choose  to  be  irritated  or  ^excited,  because  of 
what  they  take  to  be  my  genuine  ignorance  in  oratory, 
they  should  at  least  be  sure  that  their  discomposure  is 
not  gratuitous.'  —  Among  words  used  in  English  with 
a  different  signification  from  the  classical  one,  may  be 
mentioned  enormous  (Latin  enormis  'irregular',  in  English 
formerly  also  enorm  and  enormious),  item  (Latin  item  'also', 
used  to  introduce  each  article  in  a  list,  except  the  first), 
ponder  (Lat.  ponderare  'to  weigh,  examine,  judge',  transi- 
tive), premises  ('adjuncts  of  a  building',  originally  things 
set  forth  or  mentioned  in  the  beginning),  climax  (Greek 
klimax  'a  ladder  or  gradation';  in  the  popular  sense  of 
culminating  point  it  is  found  in  Emerson,  Dean  Stanley, 
John  Morley,  Miss  Mitford  and  other  writers  of  repute), 
bathos  (Greek  bathos  'depth';  in  the  sense  of  'ludicrous 
descent  from  the  elevated  to  the  commonplace'  it  is  due 
to  Pope;  the  adjective  bathetic,  wrongly  formed  on  the 
analogy  of  pathetic,  was  first  used  by  Coleridge).  It 
should  be  remembered,  however,  that  when  once  a  certain 
pronunciation  or  signification  has  been  firmly  established 
in  a  language,  the  word  fulfils  its  purpose  in  spite  of  ever 
so  many  might-have-beens,  and  that,  at  any  rate,  cor- 
rectness in  one  language  should  not  be  measured  by  the 
yard  of  another  language.  Transpire  is  perfectly  legiti- 
mate in  the  sense  'to  be  emitted  through  the  pores  of  the 
skin'  and  in  the  derived  sense  'to  become  known,  to  be- 
come public  gradually'  although  there  is  no  Latin  verb 
transpirare  in  either  of  these  senses;  if,  therefore,  the 
modern  journalistic  use  of  the  verb  in  the  sense  of  'happen' 
('a  terrible  murder  has  again  transpired  in  Whitechapel') 
is  objectionable,   it  is  not  on  account  of  any  deviation 

I20  VI.  Latin  and  Greek. 

from  Latin  usage,  but  because  it  has  arisen  through  a 
vulgar  misunderstanding  of  the  English  signification  of 
an  EngHsh  word.  Stuart  Mill  exaggerates  the  danger  of 
such  innovations,  when  he  writes:  'Vulgarisms,  which 
creep  in  nobody  knows  how,  are  daily  depriving  the 
English  language  of  valuable  modes  of  expressing  thought. 

To  take  a  present  instance:  the  verb  transpire 

Of  late  a  practice  has  commenced  of  employing  this 
word,  for  the  sake  of  finery,  as  a  mere  synonym  of  to 
happen:  'the  events  which  have  transpired  in  the  Crimea^ 
meaning  the  incidents  of  the  war.  This  vile  specimen 
of  bad  English  is  already  seen  in  the  despatches  of  noble- 
men and  viceroys:  and  the  time  is  apparently  not  far 
distant  when  nobody  will  understand  the  word  if  used  in 

its  proper  sense The  use  of  'aggravating'  for 

'provoking',  in  my  boyhood  a  vulgarism  of  the  nursery^ 
has  crept  into  almost  all  newspapers,  and  into  many  ^ 
books;  and  when  writers  on  criminal  law  speak  of  aggra- 
vating and  extenuating  circumstances,  their  meaning, 
it  is  probable,  is  already  misunderstood.'^  Let  me  add 
two  small  notes  to  Mill's  remarks.  First,  that  aggravate 
in  the  sense  of  'exasperate,  provoke'  is  exemplified  in  the 
NED.  from  Cotgrave  (i6ii),  T.  Herbert  (1634),  Richard- 
son (1748)  —  thus  some  time  before  Mill  heard  it  in  his 
nursery  —  and  Thackeray  (1848).  And  secondly,  that 
the  verb  which  Mill  uses  to  explain  it,  provoke,  is  here 
used  in  a  specifically  English  sense  which  is  nearly  as  far 
removed  from  the  classical  signification  as  that  of  ag- 
gravate is.  But  we  shall  presently  see  that  the  English 
have  taken  even  greater  liberties  with  the  classical  il 

120.  When  the  influx  of  classical  words  began,  it  had 
its  raison  d'etre  in  the  new  world  of  old,  but  forgotten 

I  Stuart   Mill,   A  System  of  Logic,   People's   edition,    1886^ 
P-  451. 

Ideas  and  Words.  I  2  i 

ideas,  then  first  revealed  to  medieval  Europe.  Instead 
of  their  narrow  circle  of  everyday  monotonousness, 
people  began  to  suspect  new  vistas,  in  art  as  well  as  in 
science,  and  classical  literature  became  a  fruitful  source 
of  information  and  inspiration.  No  wonder  then,  that 
scores  and  hundreds  of  words  should  be  adopted  together 
with  the  ideas  they  stood  for,  and  should  seem  to  the 
adopters  indispensable  means  of  enriching  a  language 
which  to  them  appeared  poor  and  infertile  as  compared 
with  the  rich  storehouses  of  Latin  and  Greek.  But  as 
times  wore  on,  the  ideas  derived  from  classical  authors 
were  no  longer  sufficient  for  the  civilized  world,  and,  just 
as  it  will  happen  with  children  outgrowing  their  garments, 
the  modern  mind  outgrew  classicism,  without  anybody 
noticing  exactly  when  or  how.  New  ideas  and  new  habits 
of  life  developed  and  demanded  linguistic  expression,  and 
now  the  curious  thing  happened  that  classical  studies  had 
so  leavened  the  minds  of  the  educated  classes  that  even 
when  they  passed  the  bounds  of  the  ancient  world  they 
drew  upon  the  Latin  and  Greek  vocabulary  in  preference 
to  their  own  native  stock  of  words. 

181.  This  is  seen  very  extensively  in  the  nomenclature 
of  modern  science,  in  which  hundreds  of  chemical,  bo- 
tanical, biological  and  other  terms  have  been  framed 
from  Latin  and  Greek  roots,  most  of  them  compound 
words  and  some  extremely  long  compounds.  It  is  cer- 
tainly superfluous  here  to  give  instances  of  such  forma- 
tions, as  a  glance  at  any  page  of  a  comprehensive  dic- 
tionary will  supply  a  sufficient  number  of  them,  and  as 
one  needs  only  a  smattering  of  science  to  be  acquaint- 
ed with  technical  words  from  Latin  and  Greek  that 
would  have  struck  Demosthenes  and  Cicero  as  bold, 
many  of  them  even  as  indefensible  or  incomprehensible 
innovations.  It  is  not,  perhaps,  so  well  known  that  quite 
a  number  of  words  that  belong  to  the  vocabulary  of  ord- 

J 22  VI.  Latin  and  Greek. 

inary  life  and  that  are  generally  supposed  to  have  the 
best-ascertained  classical  pedigree,  have  really  been 
coined  in  recent  times  more  or  less  exactly  on  classical 
analogies.  Some  of  them  have  arisen  independently  in 
several  European  countries.  Such  modern  coinages  are, 
for  instance,  eventual  with  eventuality,  immoral,  fragmental 
and  fragmentary,  primal,  annexation,  fixation  and  affixa- 
tion, climatic.  There  are  scores  of  modern  formations  in 
-ism^,  e.  g.  absenteeism,  alienism,  classicism,  colloquialism, 
favouritism,  individualism,  mannerism,  realism,  not  to 
speak  of  those  made  from  proper  names,  such  as  Swin- 
burnism,  Zolaism,  etc.  Among  the  innumerable  words 
of  recent  formation  in  -ist  may  be  mentioned  dentist, 
economist,  florist,  jurist,  oculist,  copyist  (formerly  copist 
as  in  some  continental  languages),  determinist,  economist, 
ventriloquist,  individualist,  plagiarist,  positivist,  socialist, 
terrorist,  nihilist,  tourist.  For  calculist  the  only  author 
quoted  in  the  NED.  is  Carlyle.  Scientist  has  often  been 
branded  as  an  'ignoble  Americanism'  or  'a  cheap  and  H 
vulgar  product  of  trans-Atlantic  slang',  but  Fitzedward 
Hall  has  pointed  out  that  it  was  fabricated  and  advocated, 
in  1840,  together  with  physicist,  by  Dr.  Whewell.  Who- 
ever objects  to  such  words  as  scientist  on  the  plea  that 
they  are  not  correct  Latin  formations,  would  have  to 
blot  out  of  his  vocabulary  such  well-established  words 
as  suicide,  telegram,  botany,  sociology,  tractarian,  vege- 
tarian, facsimile  and  orthopedic;  but  then,  happily,  people 
are  not  consistent. 

122.    Authors    sometimes     coin    quasi-classic    words   \\ 
without  finding  anybody  to  pass  them  on,  as  when  Mil- 
ton writes  'our  inquisiturient  Bishops'  (Areop.  13).    Cole-   ,, 
ridge    speaks    of    'logodcedaly    or    verbal    legerdemain',     ' 

I  See  Fitzedward  Hall,   Modem  English,   p.  311.     His  lists 
have  also  been  utilized  in  the  rest  of  this  paragraph.  id 

Innovations.      ^  i2;\ 

Thackeray  of  a  lady's  'viduous  mansion'  (Newc.  794), 
Dickens  of  'vocular  exclamations'  (Oliver  Twist) ;  Tennyson 
writes  in  a  letter  (Life  I.  254)  'you  range  no  higher  in  my 
andrometer' ;  Bulwer-Lytton  says  *a  cat  the  most  viparious 
[meaning  evidently  'tenacious  of  life']  is  limited  to  nine 
lives';  and  Mrs.  Humphrey  Ward  'his  air  of  old-fashioned 
punctilium.'^  I  have  here  on  purpose  mixed  correct 
and  incorrect  forms,  jocular  and  serious  words,  because 
my  point  was  to  illustrate  the  love  found  in  most  English 
writers  of  everything  Latin  or  Greek,  however  unusual 
or  fanciful.  Sometimes  jocular  'classicisms'  survive  and 
are  adopted  into  everybody's  language,  such  as  omnium 
gatherum  (whence  Thackeray's  bold  heading  of  a  chapter 
'Snobbium  Gatherum'),  circumbendibus  (Goldsmith,  Cole- 
ridge) and  tandem,  which  originated  in  a  University  pun 
on  the  two  senses  of  English  'at  length'. 

123.  Hybrids,  in  which  one  of  the  component  part  was 
French  and  the  other  native  English,  have  been  men- 
tioned above  (§  106  f.).  Here  we  shall  give  some  examples 
of  the  corresponding  phenomenon  with  Latin  and  Greek 
elements,  some  of  which  may,  however,  have  been  im- 
ported through  French.  The  ending  -ation  is  found  in 
starvation,  backwardation,  and  others;  note  also  the  Amer- 
ican thiinderation  ('It  was  an  accident,  sir.'  'Accident 
the  thunderation',  Opie  Read,  Toothpick  Tales,  Chicago 
1892,  p.  35).  Johnsoniana,  Miltoniana,  etc.,  are  quite 
modern;  the  ending  ana  alone  is  now  also  used  as  a  de- 
tached noun.  In  -ist  we  have  the  American  walkist, 
which  is  interesting  as  denoting  a  professional  walker 
and  therefore  distinguished  by  the  more  learned  ending. 
Compare   also   turfite  and   the   numerous   words   in   -ite 

I  Dictionaries  recognize  punctilio,  a  curious  transformation 
of  Spanish  puntillo;  there  is  a  late  Latin  punctillum ,  but  not 
with  the  meaning  of  'punctiliousness'. 


VI.  Latin  and  Greek. 

derived  from  proper  names:  Irvingite,  Ruskinite,  etc. 
The  same  ending  is  frequently  used  in  mineralogy  and 
chemistry,  one  of  the  latest  additons  to  these  formations 
being  fumelessite  =  smokeless  gunpowder.  Hybrids  in 
-ism  (cf.  §  12 1)  abound;  heathenism  has  been  used  by 
Bacon,  Milton,  Addison,  Freeman  and  others;  witticism 
was  first  used  by  Dryden,  who  asks  pardon  for  this  new 
word ;  hlock-headism  is  found  in  Ruskin ;  further  funnyism, 
free-lovism,  etc.;  the  curious  wegotism  may  be  classed  with 
the  jocular  drinkitite  on  the  analogy  of  appetite.  Girlicide, 
2iiter  suicide,  is  another  jocular  formation  (Smedley,  Frank 
Fairlegh  I  190,  not  in  NED.).  To  the  same  sphere  belong 
Byron's  weatherology  and  some  words  in  -ocracy^  such  as 
landocracy,  shopocracy,  barristerocracy,  squattocracy  and 
G.  Meredith's  snipocracy  (Evan  Harrington  174,  from  snip 
ai  a  nickname  for  a  tailor).  On  the  other  hand  squirearchy 
(with  squirearchical)  seems  to  have  quite  established  it- 
self in  serious  language.  Among  verbal  formations  must 
be  mentioned  those  in  -ize:  he  womanized  his  language 
(Meredith,  Egoist  32),  Londonizing  (ibd.  80),  soberize,  etc. 
Adjectives  are  formed  in  -ative:  talkative,  babblative, 
scribblative,  and  soothative,  of  which  only  the  first  is  rec- 
ognized; in  -aceous:  gossipaceous  (Darwin,  Life  and  Let- 
ters I  375),  in  -arious:  burglarious  (Stevenson,  Dynamiter 
130),  and  -iacal:  dandiacal  (Carlyle,  Sartor  188).  Even  if 
many  of  these  words  are  'nonce  -  words',  it  cannot 
be  denied  that  the  process  is  genuinely  English  and 
perfectly  legitimate  —  within  reasonable  limits  at  any 

124.  Some  Latin  and  Greek  prepositions  have  in  re- 
cent times  been  extensively  used  to  form  new  words. 
Ex-,  as  in  ex-king,  ex-head-master,  etc.^,  seems  first  to 
have  been  used  in  French,  but  it  is  now  common  to  most 

I   'A  pair  of  ex -white  satin  shoes'  (Thackeray). 

Hybrids.  I  2  5 

or  all  Germanic  languages  as  well;  in  English  this  form- 
ation  did    not    become    popular    till  little  more  than  a 
century  ago.  Anti-:  the  anti-taxation  movement;  an  anti- 
foreign  party;  'Mr.  Anti-slavery  Clarkson'  (De  Quincey, 
Opium- Eater  197);  'chairs  unpleasant  to  sit  in  —  anti- 
caller  chairs  they  might  be  named'  (H.  Spencer,  Facts 
and  Comments  85).    Co-:  'a  friend  of  mine,  co-godfather 
to   Dickens's   child   with   me'    (Tennyson,   Life    II   114); 
'Wallace,    the   co-formulator   of   the   Darwinian   theory' 
(Clodd,  Pioneers  of  Evolution  68).     De-,  especially  with 
verbs  in  -ize:  de-anglicize,  de-democratize,  deprovincialize, 
denationalize;  less  frequently  as  in  de-tenant,  de-miracle 
(Tennyson).    Inter-:  intermingle,  intermix,  intermarriage, 
interbreed,     inter-communicate,     inter-dependence,     etc. 
International  was  coined  by  Bentham  in  1780;  it  marks 
linguistically  the  first  beginning  of  the  era  when  relations 
between  nations    came  to  be    considered    like  relations 
between  citizens,  capable  of  peaceful  arrangement  according 
to    right    rather    than    according    to    might.     A    great 
many  other  similar  adjectives  have  since  been  formed: 
intercollegiate,  interracial,  interparliamentary,  etc.    Where 
no  adjective  existed,  the  substantive  is  used  unchanged, 
but  the  combination  is  virtually  an  adjective:  interstate 
affairs;  ^.n  inter-island  sted^mev ;  'international,  inter-club, 
inter-team,  inter-college  or  inter-school  contests'  (quoted 
in  NED.).     Pre-:  the  pre-Darwinian  explanations;  pre- 
nuptial  friendships  (Pinero,  Second  Mrs.  Tanqueray,  p.  6, 
what  are  called   on  p.  8   'ante-nuptial  acquaintances'); 
'in  the  pre-railroad,   pre-telegraphic  period'   (G.   Eliot); 
the  pre-railway  city;  the  pre-board  school;   a  bunch  of 
pre- Johannesburg  Transvaals;   the  pre-mechanical  civil- 
ized state  (all  these  are  quotations  from  H.  G.  Wells) ;  in 
your  pre-smoking  days   (Barrie).     Pro-:  the  pro-Boers; 
pro-foreign  proclivities;  a  pro-Belgian,  or  rather  pro-King 
Leopold  speaker.    As  any  number  of  such  derivatives  or 

126  ^I«  Latin  and  Greek. 

compounds  can  be  formed  with  the  greatest  facihty,  the 
utility  and  convenience  of  these  certainly  not  classical 
expedients  cannot  be  reasonably  denied,  though  it  may 
be  questioned  whether  it  would  not  have  been  better  to 
utilize  English  prepositions  for  the  same  purposes,  as 
is  done  with  after-  (an  after-dinner  speech)  and  sometimes 
with  before-  ('the  before  Alfred  remains  of  our  language', 
Sweet;  'smoking  his  bef ore-breakfast  pipe',  Conan  Doyle). 
A  few  words  must  be  added  on  re-  which  is  used  in  a 
similar  manner  in  any  number  of  free  compounds,  such 
as  rebirth,  and  especially  verbs:  re -organize,  re-sterilize, 
re-submit,  re-pocket,  re-leather,  re-case  etc.  Here  re- 
is  always  strongly  stressed  and  pronounced  with  a  long 
vowel  [i*],  and  by  that  means  these  recent  words  are 
in  the  spoken  language  easily  distinguished  from  the 
older  set  of  r^-words,  where  re  is  either  weakly  stressed 
or  else  pronounced  with  short  [e].  We  have  therefore 
such  pairs  as  recollect  =  to  remember,  and  re-collect  =  to 
collect  again;  he  recovered  the  lost  umbrella  and  had  it 
re-covered;  reform  and  re-form  (reformation  and  re-form- 
ation), recreate  and  re-create,  remark  and  re-mark, 
resign  and  re-sign,  resound  and  re-sound,  resort  and  re-sort. 
In  the  written  language  the  distinction  is  not  always 

125.  Latin  has  influenced  English  not  only  in  vocabu- 
lary, but  also  in  style  and  syntax.  The  absolute  participle 
(as  in  'everything  considered',  or  'this  being  the  case') 
was  introduced  at  a  very  early  period  in  imitation  of 
the  Latin  construction.^  It  is  comparatively  rare  in  Old 
English,  where  it  occurs  chiefly  in  close  translations  from 
Latin.    In  the  first  period  of  Middle  English  it  is  equally 

I  Morgan  Callaway,  The  Absolute  Participle  in  Anglo-Saxon. 
Baltimore  1889.  -  Charles  Hunter  Ross ,  The  Absolute  Participle 
in  Middle  and  Modern  English,  Baltimore  1893. 

Syntax.  127 

rare,  but  in  the  second  period  it  becomes  a  little  more 
frequent.    Chaucer  seems   to  have  used  it  chiefly  in  imi- 
tation of  the   Italian  construction,   but  this    Italian  in- 
fluence died  out  with  him,  and  French  influence  did  very 
little  to  increase  the  frequency  of  the  construction.     In 
the  beginning  of  the  Modern  English  period  the  absolute 
participle,   though  occurring  more  often  than  formerly, 
'had  not  become  thoroughly  naturahzed.     It  limited  it- 
self to  certain  favourite  authors  where  the  classical  element 
largely  predominated,   and   was   used  but  sparingly  by 
authors   whose   style   was   essentially   English/      (Ross, 
p.  38.)    But  after  1660,  when  English  prose  style  devel- 
oped a   new  phase,  which  was    saturated  with  classical 
elements,   the  construction  rapidly  gained   ground   and 
was  finally  fixed  and  naturalized  in  the  language.    There 
are  some  other  Latin  idioms  which  authors  tried  to  imi- 
tate, but  which  have  always  been  felt  as  unnatural,  so  that 
now  they  have  been  dropped,  for  instance  who  for  he  who 
or  those  who  as  in  'sleeping  found  by  whom  they  dread' 
(Milton,  P.  L.    I.    1333),  further  such  interrogative  and 
relative   constructions   as   those  found   in   the  following 
quotations.     'To  do  what  service  am  I  sent  for  hither?' 
(Shakesp.,  R  2  IV.  i.  176)  and  'a  right  noble  and  pious 

lord,  who  had  he  not  sacrificed  his  life we  had 

not  now  mist  and  bewayl'd  a  worthy  patron'  (Milton, 
Areop.  51). 

126.  Latin  grammar  was  the  only  grammar  taught  in 
those  days,  and  the  only  grammar  found  worthy  of 
study  and  imitation.  'That  highly  discipHned  syntax 
which  Milton  favoured  from  the  first,  and  to  which  he 
tended  more  and  more,  was  in  fact,  the  classical  syntax, 
or,  to  be  more  exact,  an  adaptation  of  the  syntax  of 
the  Latin  tongue,'  says  D.  Masson^  and  when  he  adds, 

I  Poetical  Works  of  Milton,  1890,  vol.  Ill,  p.  74—5- 

J  28  ^^'  Latin  and  Greek. 

*It  could  hardly  fail  to  be  so Even  now,  questions 

in  English  syntax  are  often  settled  best  practically,  if  a 
settlement  is  wanted,  by  a  reference  to  Latin  construc- 
tion', he  expresses  a  totally  erroneous  conception  which 
has  been,  and  is,  unfortunately  too  common,  although 
very  little  linguistic  culture  would  seem  to  be  needed  to 
expose  its  fallacy.     Nowhere,  perhaps,  has  this  miscon- 
ception been  more  strongly  expressed  than  in  Dryden's 
preface  to  'Troilus  and  Cressida',  where  he  writes:  'How 
barbarously  we  yet  write  and  speak  your  Lordship  knows, 
and  I  am  sufficiently  sensible  in  my  own  English.     For 
I  am  often  put  to  a  stand  in  considering  whether  what 
I  write  be  the  idiom  of  the  tongue,   or  false  grammar 
and  nonsense  couched  beneath  that  specious  name  of 
Anglicism,  and  have  no  other  way  to  clear  my  doubts 
but  by  translating  my  English  into  Latin,  and  thereby 
trying  what  sense  the  words  will  bear  in  a  more  stable 
language.'     I  am  afraid  that  Dryden  would  never  have 
become  the  famous  writer  he  is,  had  he  employed  this 
practice  as  often  as  he  would  have  us  imagine.     But  it 
was  certainly  in  deference  to  Latin  syntax  that  in  the 
later  editions  of  his  Essay  on  Dramatic  Poesy  he  changed 
such  phrases  as  'I  cannot  think  so  contemptibly  of  the 
age  I  live  in'  to  'the  age  in  which  I  live';  he  speaks  some- 
where^ of  the  preposition  at  the  end  of  the  sentence  as 
a  common  fault  with  Ben  Jonson  'and  which  I  have  but 
lately  observed  in  my  own  writings.'    The  construction 
Dryden  here  reprehends  is  not  a  'fault'  and  is  not  con- 
fined to  Ben  Jonson,  but  is  a  genuine  English  idiom  of 
long  standing  in  the  language  and  found  very  frequently 
in  all  writers  of  natural  prose  and  verse.    The  omission 
of  the  relative   pronoun,   which   Dr.   Johnson  terms   'a 

I  I  quote  this  second-hand,  see  J.  Earle,  Efiglish  Prose  267; 
Hales,  Notes  to  Milton's  Areopagitica ,  p.  103. 

Syntax  and  Style.  129 

colloquial  barbarism'  and  which  is  found  only  seven  or 
eight  times  in  all  the  writings  of  Milton,  and  (according 
to  Thum)  only  twice  in  the  whole  of  Macaulay's  History, 
abounds  in  the  writings  of  such  authors  as  Shakespeare, 
Bunyan,  Swift,  Fielding,  Goldsmith,  Sterne,  Byron, 
Shelley,  Dickens,  Thackeray,  Tennyson,  Ruskin,  etc., 
etc.  In  Addison's  well-known  'Humble  Petition  of  Who 
and  Which'^  these  two  pronouns  complain  of  the  injury 
done  to  them  by  the  recent  extension  of  the  use  of  that. 
'We  are  descended  of  ancient  Families,  and  kept  up  our 
Dignity  and  Honour  many  Years  till  the  Jacksprat  that 
supplanted  us.'  Addison  here  turns  all  historical  truth 
topsy-turvy,  for  that  is  much  older  as  a  relative  pronoun 
than  either  who  or  which]  but  the  real  reason  of  his  pre- 
dilection for  the  latter  two  was  certainly  their  conform- 
ance to  Latin  relative  pronouns,  and  there  can  be  no 
doubt  that  his  article,  assisted  by  English  grammars  and 
the  teaching  given  in  schoolrooms,  has  contributed  very 
much  to  restricting  the  use  of  that  as  a  relative  pronoun 
■ —  in  writing  at  least.  Addison  himself,  when  editing  the 
Spectator  in  book-form,  corrected  many  a  natural  that  to 
a  less  natural  who  or  which, 

127.  As  to  the  more  general  effect  of  classical  studies 
on  English  style,  I  am  very  much  inclined  to  think  that 
Darwin  and  Huxley  are  right  as  against  most  school- 
masters. 'Ch.  Darwin  had  the  strongest  disbelief  in  the 
common  idea  that  a  classical  scholar  must  write  good 
English;  indeed  he  thought  that  the  contrary  was  the 
case. '2  Huxley  wrote  to  the  Times,  Aug.  5,  1890:^  'My 
impression  has  been  that  the  Genius  of  the  English  lan- 
guage is  widely  different  from  that  of  Latin;  and  that 

1  The  Spectator,  no.  78,  May   30,  1711. 

2  Life  and  Letters  of  Ch.  Darwin,   1887,  I  p.  155. 

3  Quoted  by  J.  Earle,  English  Prose,  487. 

Jbspersen:  English.   2Qd  ed.  < 

J  90  -  VI,  Latin  and  Greek. 

the  worst  and  the  most  debased  kinds  of  English  style 
are  those  which  ape  Latinity.  I  know  of  no  purer  English 
prose  than  that  of  John  Bunyan  and  Daniel  Defoe;  I 
doubt  if  the  music  of  Keats's  verse  has  ever  been  sur- 
passed; it  has  not  been  my  fortune  to  hear  any  orator 
who  approached  the  powerful  simplicity,  the  Hmpid  sin- 
cerity, of  the  speech  of  John  Bright.  Yet  Latin  Hterature 
and  these  masters  of  Enghsh  had  little  to  do  with  one 
another.'  As  'in  diesem  bund  der  dritte'  might  be  men- 
tioned Herbert  Spencer,  who  expressed  himself  strongly 
to  the  same  effect  in  his  last  book.^ 

128.  To  return  to  the  vocabulary.  We  may  now  con- 
sider the  question:  Is  the  Latin  element  on  the  whole 
beneficial  to  the  English  tongue  or  would  it  have  been 
better  if  the  free  adoption  of  words  from  the  classical 
languages  had  been  kept  within  much  narrower  limits? 
A  perfectly  impartial  decision  is  not  easy,  but  it  is  hoped 
that  the  following  may  be  considered  a  fair  statement 
of  the  most  important  pros  and  cons.  The  first  advan- 
tage that  strikes  the  observer  is  the  enormous  addition 
to  the  English  vocabulary.  If  the  English  boast  that 
their  language  is  richer  than  any  other,  and  that  their 
dictionaries  contain  a  far  greater  number  of  words  than  j 
German  and  French  ones,  the  chief  reason  is,  of  course, 
the  greater  number  of  foreign  and  especially  of  French 
and  Latjn  words  adopted.  'I  trade,'  says  Dryden,  'both 
with  the  living  and  the  dead  for  the  enrichment  of  our 
native  language.' 

129.  But  this  wealth  of  words  has  its  seamy  side  too. 
The  real  psychological  wealth  is  wealth  of  ideas,  not  of 
mere  names.    'We  have  more  words  than  notions,  half  a 
dozen  words  for  the  same  thing',  says  Selden  (Table  Talk'' 
LXXVI).     Words  are  not   material  things  that  can  be 

I   Facts  and  Comments,   1902,  p.  70. 


Wealth  of  Words. 


heaped  up  like  money  or  stores  of  food  and  clothes, 
from  which  you  may  at  any  time  take  what  you  want. 
A  word  to  be  yours  must  be  learnt  by  you,  and  possessing 
it  means  reproducing  it.  Both  the  process  of  learning 
and  that  of  reproducing  it  involve  labour  on  your  part. 
Some  words  are  easy  to  handle,  and  others  difficult. 
The  number  of  words  at  your  disposal  in  a  given  language 
is,  therefore,  not  the  only  thing  of  importance;  their 
quality,  too,  is  to  be  considered,  and  especially  the  ease 
with  which  they  can  be  associated  with  the  ideas  they 
are  to  symbolize  and  with  other  words.  Now  many  of 
the  Latin  words  are  deficient  in  that  respect,  and  this 
entails  other  drawbacks  to  speakers  of  English,  as  will 
presently  appear. 

ISO.  It  will  be  argued  in  favour  of  the  classical  ele- 
ments that  many  of  them  fill  up  gaps  in  the  native  stock 
of  words,  so  that  they  serve  to  express  ideas  which  would 
have  been  nameless  but  for  them.  To  this  it  may  be 
objected  that  the  resources  of  the  original  language 
should  not  be  underrated.  In  most,  perhaps  in  all  cases, 
it  would  have  been  possible  to  find  an  adequate  ex- 
pression in  the  vernacular  or  to  coin  one.  The  tendency 
to  such  economy  in  Old  English  and  the  ease  with  which 
felicitous  terms  for  new  ideas  were  then  framed  by 
means  of  native  speech-material,  have  been  mentioned 
above.  But  Httle  by  little  English  speakers  lost  the  habit 
of  looking  first  to  their  own  language  and  utilizing  it 
to  the  utmost  before  going  abroad  for  new  expressions. 
People  who  had  had  their  whole  education  in  Latin  and 
[[  had  thought  all  their  best  thoughts  in  that  language  to 
\[  an  extent  which  is  not  easy  for  us  moderns  to  realize, 
often  found  it  easier  to  write  on  abstract  or  learned 
;j  subjects  in  Latin  than  in  their  own  vernacular,  and  when 
ii  they  tried  to  write  on  these  things  in  English,  Latin 
[!  words  would  constantly  come  first  to  their  minds.  Mental 


J  0  2  VI.  Latin  and  Greek. 

laziness  and  regard  to  their  own  momentary  convehience 
therefore  led  them  to  retain  the  Latin  word  and  give 
it  only  an  English  termination.  Little  did  they  care  for 
the  convenience  of  their  readers,  if  they  should  happen 
to  be  ignorant  of  the  classics,  or  for  that  of  unborn 
generations,  whom  they  forced  by  their  disregard  for 
their  own  language  to  carry  on  the  burden  of  committing 
to  memory  words  and  expressions  which  were  really 
foreign  to  their  idiom.  If  they  have  not  actually  dried 
up  the  natural  sources  of  speech — for  these  run  on  as 
fresh  as  ever — yet  they  have  accustomed  their  country- 
men to  cross  the  stream  in  search  of  water,  to  borrow  an 
expressive  Danish  locution. 

131.  There  is  one  class  of  words  which  seems  to  be 
rather  sparingly  represented  in  the  native  vocabulary,  so 
that  classical  formations  are  extremely  often  resorted  to, 
namely  the  adjectives.  It  is,  in  fact,  surprising  how 
many  pairs  we  have  of  native  nouns  and  foreign  adjec- 
tives, e.  g.  mouth:  oral;  nose:  nasal]  eye:  ocular;  mind: 
mental;  son:  filial;  ox:  bovine;  worm:  vermicular;  house: 
domestic;  the  middle  ages:  medieval;  book:  literary;  moon: 
lunar;  sun:  solar;  star:  stellar;  town:  urban;  man:  human, 
virile,  etc.,  etc.  In  the  same  category  we  may  class  such 
pairs  as  money:  monetary,  pecuniary;  letter:  epistolary; 
school:  scholastic,  as  the  nouns,  though  originally  for- 
eign, are  now  for  all  practical  purposes  to  be  considered 
native.  We  may  note  here  English  proper  names  and 
their  Latinized  adjectives,  e.  g.  Dorset:  Dorsetian;  Ox- 
ford: Oxonian;  Cambridge:  Cantabrigian;  Gladstone: 
Gladstonian.  Lancaster  has  even  two  adjectives,  Lan- 
castrian (in  medieval  history)  and  Lancasterian  (schools, 
Joseph  Lancaster,  177 1 — 1838).  It  cannot  be  pretended 
that  all  these  adjectives  are  used  on  account  of  any 
real  deficiency  in  the  English  language,  as  it  has  quite 
a  number  of  endings  by  which  to  turn  substantives  into 

Adjectives.  1^3 

adjectives:  -en  (silken),  -y  (flowery),  -ish  (girlish),  -ly 
(fatherly),  -like  (fishlike),  -some  (burdensome),  -ful  (sin- 
ful), and  these  might  easily  have  been  utilized  still  more 
than  they  actually  have  been.  In  point  of  fact,  we  possess 
not  a  few  native  adjectives  by  the  side  of  more  learned 
ones,  e.  g.  fatherly:  paternal;  motherly:  maternal;  brotherly: 
fraternal  (but  only  sisterly,  as  sororal  is  so  rare  as  to  be 
left  out  of  account) ;  further  watery:  aquatic  or  aqueous; 
heavenly:  celestial;  earthy,  earthly,  earthen:  terrestrial; 
timely:  temporal;  daily:  diurnal;  truthful:  veracious;  etc. 
In  some  cases  the  meanings  of  these  have  become  more 
or  less  differentiated,  the  EngHsh  words  having  often 
lost  an  abstract  sense  which  they  formerly  had  and  which 
might  have  been  retained  with  advantage.  If  the  word 
sanguinary  is  now  extensively  used  it  is  due  to  the 
curious  twisting  of  the  meaning  of  bloody  in  vulgar  speech 
(cf.  244).  Kingly,  royal,  and  regal  have  now  sHghtly 
different  appHcations,  but  as  royal  in  French,  kongelig 
in  Danish,  and  koniglich  in  German  cover  them  all, 
English  might  have  been  content  with  one  word  instead 
of  three, 

132.  Besides,  in  a  great  many  cases  it  is  really  con- 
trary to  the  genius  of  the  language  to  use  an  adjective 
at  all.  Where  Romance  and  Slavonic  languages  very 
often  prefer  a  combination  of  a  noun  and  an  adjective  the 
Germanic  languages  combine  the  two  ideas  into  a  com- 
pound noun.  Birthday  is  much  more  English  than  natal 
day  (which  is  used,  for  instance,  in  Wordsworth's  75th 
Sonnet),  and  eyeball  than  ocular  globe,  but  physiologists 
think  it  more  dignified  to  speak  of  the  gustatory  nerve 
than  of  the  taste  nerve  and  will  even  say  mental  nerve 
(Lat.  mentum  'chin')  instead  of  chin  nerve  in  spite  of 
the  unavoidable  confusion  with  the  familiar  adjective 
mental.  Mere  position  before  another  noun  is  really  the 
most  English  way  of  turning  a  noun  into  an  adjective, 

17  A  VI.   Latin  and  Greek. 

e.  g.  the  London  market,  a  Wessex  man,  Yorkshire  pud- 
ding, a  strong  Edinburgh  accent,  a  Japan  table,  Venice 
glasses,  the  Chaucer  Society,  the  Droeshout  picture,  a 
Gladstone  bag,  imitation  Astrakhan,  'Every  tiger  madness 
muzzled,  every  serpent  passion  kill'd'  (Tennyson).^  It  is 
worth  noting  that  the  English  adjective  corresponding  to 
family  is  not  familiar, v^hich.  has  been  somewhat  estranged 
from  its  kindred,  but  family:  family  reasons,  family  affairs, 
family  questions,  etc.  The  unnaturalness  of  forming  Latin 
adjectives  is,  perhaps,  also  shown  by  the  vacillation  often 
found  between  different  endings,  as  in  feudatary  and 
feudatory,  festal  and  festive.  From  labyrinth  no  less  than 
six  adjectives  have  been  found:  labyrinthal,  labyrinthean, 
labyrinthian,  labyrinthic,  labyrinthical  and  labyrinthine. 
Many  adjectives  are  quite  superfluous;  Shakespeare 
never  used  either  autumnal,  hibernal,  vernal,  or  estival, 
and  he  probably  never  missed  them.  Instead  of 
hodiernal  and  hesternal  we  have  luckily  other  expressions 
(to-day's  post;  the  questions  of  the  day;  yesterday's 
news).  Most  of  us  can  certainly  do  without  gressorial 
(birds),  avuncular  (a  favourite  with  Thackeray:  'Clive, 
in  the  avuncular  gig';  'the  avuncular  banking  house'; 
'the  avuncular  quarrel',  all  from  The  Newcomes), 
osculatory  (processes  =  kissing;  ib.) ,  lachrymatory  (he 
is  great  in  the  1.  line;  ib.) ,  aquiline  ('What!  am  I  an 
eagle  too.?  I  have  no  aquiline  prentensions  at  all', 
ib.)2  —  and  a  great  many  similarly  purposeless  ad- 

133.  More  than  in  anything  else  the  richness  of  the 
English  language  manifests  itself  in  its  great  number  of 

1  Shakespeare  did  not  scruple  to  write  'the  Carthage  queen', 
'Rome  gates',  'Tiber  banks',  even  '  through  faire  Verona  streets'. 
Cf.  below,  §  210. 

2  Thus  used  in  a  different  manner  from  the  familiar  aqui- 
line nose. 

1  Synonyms.  1 35 

synonyms,  whether  we  take  this  word  in  its  strict  sense 
of  words  of  exactly  the  same  meaning  or  in  the  looser 

I     sense  of  words  with  nearly  the  same  meaning.      It  is 
evident  that  the  latter  class  must  be  the  most  valuable 

I  as  it  allows  speakers  to  express  subtle  shades  of  thought. 
Juvenile  does  not  signify  the  same  thing  as  youthful,  pon- 
derous as  weighty,  portion  as  share,  miserable  as  wretched. 
Legible  means  'that  can  be  read',  readable  generally  'worth 
reading'.  Sometimes  the  Latin  word  is  used  in  a  more 
limited,  special  or  precise  sense  than  the  English,  as  is 
seen  by  a  comparison  of  identical  and  same,  science  and 
knowledge,  sentence  and  saying,  latent  or  occult  and  hidden. 
Breath  can  hardly  now  be  called  a  synonym  of  spirit  ('The 
spirit  does  not  mean  the  breath',  Tennyson),  and  simi- 
larly edify,  which  is  still  used  by  Spenser  in  the  con- 
crete sense  of  'building  up',  is  now  used  exclusively 
with  a  spiritual  signification,  which  its  former  synonym 
build  can  never  have.  Homicide  is  the  learned,  abstract, 
colourless  word,  while  murder  denotes  only  one  kind  of 
manslaughter,  and  killing  is  the  everyday  word  with  a 
much  vaguer  signification  (being  applicable  also  to  ani- 
mals); there  is  a  very  apposite  quotation  from  Coleridge 
in  the  NED.:  '(He)  is  acquitted  of  murder  —  the  act 
was  manslaughter  only,  or  it  was  justifiable  homicide*. 
The  learned  word  magnitude  is  more  specialized  than 
greatness  or  size  (which  is  now  thoroughly  English,  but  is 
a  very  recent  development  of  assize  in  a  curiously  modi- 
fied sense).  The  Latin  masculine  is  more  abstract  than 
the  English  manly,  which  generally  implies  an  emotional 
element  of  praise,  the  French  male  has  not  exactly  the 
same  import  as  either,  and  the  Latin  virile  represents 
a  fourth  shade,  while  for  the  other  sex  we  have  feminine, 
womanly  and  womanish,  the  differences  between  which 
are  not  parallel  to  those  between  the  first  series  of 

J  95  ^I-  Latin  and  Greek. 

134.  These  examples  will  suffice  to  illustrate  the  syn- 
onymic relations  between  classical  and  other  words. 
It  will  be  seen  that  it  is  not  always  easy  to  draw  a  line 
or  to  determine  exactly  the  different  shades  of  meaning 
attached  to  each  word;  indeed,  a  comparison  of  the 
definitions  given  in  various  essays  on  synonyms  and  in 
dictionaries,  and  especially  a  comparison  of  these  de- 
finitions with  the  use  as  actually  found  in  various  writ- 
ers, will  show  that  it  is  in  many  cases  a  hopeless  task 
to  assign  definite  spheres  of  signification  to  these  words. 
Sometimes  the  only  real  difference  is  that  one  term  is 
preferred  in  certain  collocations  and  another  in  others. 
Still,  it  is  indubitable  that  very  often  the  existence  of 
a  double  or  triple  assortment  of  expressions  will  allow 
a  writer  to  express  his  thoughts  with  the  greatest  pre- 
cision imaginable.  But  on  the  other  hand,  only  those 
whose  thoughts  are  accurate  and  well  disciplined  attain 
to  the  highest  degree  of  Hnguistic  precision,  and  the  use 
in  speech  and  writing  of  the  same  set  of  words  by  loose 
and  inexact  thinkers  will  always  tend  to  blur  out  any 
sharp  lines  of  demarcation  that  may  exist  between  such 
synonymous  terms  as  do  not  belong  to  their  every-day 
stock  of  language. 

135.  However,  even  where  there  is  no  real  difference 
in  the  value  of  two  words  or  where  the  difference  is 
momentarily  disregarded,  their  existence  may  not  be  en- 
tirely worthless,  as  it  enables  an  author  to  avoid  a  tri- 
vial repetition  of  the  same  word,  and  variety  of  expres- 
sions is  generally  considered  one  of  the  felicities  of  style. 
We  very  often  see  English  authors  use  a  native  and  a 
borrowed  word  side  by  side  simply,  it  would  seem,  to 
amplify  the  expression,  without  modifying  its  meaning. 
Thus  'of  blind  forgetjulnesse  and  dark  oblivion'  (Shake- 
speare, in  Buckingham's  strongly  rhetorical  speech,  R  3 
III.  7.  129).    The  manifold  multiform  flower'  (Swinburne, 

Synonyms.  I^y 

Songs  bef.  Sunr.  lo6).  A  perfectly  natural  variation  of 
three  expressions  is  seen  in:  'the  Bushman  story  is  just 
the  sort  of  story  we  expect  from  Bushmen,  whereas  the 
Hesiodic  story  is  not  at  all  the  kind  of  tale  we  look  for 
from  Greeks'.  (A.  Lang,  Custom  and  Myth  54.)  Further 
examples:  'I  went  upstairs  with  my  candle  directly.  It 
appeared  to  my  childish  fancy,  as  I  ascended  to  the  bed- 
room   '  'He  asked  me  if  it  would  suit  my  con- 
venience to  have  the  light  put  out;  and  on  my  answering 
'yes',  instantly  extinguished  it'.  'The  phantom  slowly 
approached.  When  it  came  near  him,  Scrooge  bent  down' ; 
'they  are  exactly  unlike.  They  are  utterly  dissimilar  in 
all  respects'  (all  these  from  Dickens).  'We  who  boast 
of  our  land  of  freedom,  we  who  live  in  the  country  of 
liberty.'  'I  could  not  repress  a  half  smile  as  he  said  this; 
a  similar  demi-manifestation  of  feeling  appeared  at  the 
same  moment  on  Hunsden's  lips.'  This  kind  of  variation 
evidently  does  not  always  lead  to  the  highest  excellence 
of  style.  I  quote  from  Minto^  Samuel  Johnson's  com- 
parison between  punch  and  conversation:  'The  spirit, 
volatile  and  fiery,  is  the  proper  emblem  of  vivacity  and 
wit;  the  acidity  of  the  lemon  will  very  aptly  figure  pun- 
gency of  raillery  and  acrimony  of  censure;  sugar  is  the 
natural  representative  of  luscious  adulation  and  gentle 
complaisance;  and  water  is  the  proper  hieroglyphic  of 
easy  prattle,  innocent  and  tasteless.'  This  is  not  far 
from  Mr.  Micawber's  pihng  up  of  words   ('to  the  best 

of  my  knowledge,  information,  and  belief to  wit, 

in  manner  following,  that  is  to  say'),  which  gives  Dickens 
the  occasion  for  the  following  outburst: 

'In  the  taking  of  legal  oaths,  for  instance,  deponents 
seem  to  enjoy  themselves  mightily  when  they  come  to 
several  good  words  in  succession,  for  the  expression  of 

I  Manual  of  English  Prose  Literature,  3rd  ed.  1896,  p.  418. 


\1.  Latin  and  Greek. 

one  idea;  as,  that  they  utterly  detest,  abominate,  and       i 
abjure,  or  so  forth;  and  the  old  anathemas  were  made 
relishing  on   the   same   principle.      We   talk  about   the       i 
tyranny  of  words,  but  we  like  to  tyrannize  over  them      J 
too;  we  are  fond  of  having  a  large  superfluous  estabhsh-       | 
ment  of  words  to  wait  upon  us  on  great  occasions;  we 
think  it  looks  important,  and  sounds  well.     As  we  are 
not   particular   about   the   meanings   of  our  liveries   on 
state  occasions,  if  they  be  but  fine  and  numerous  enough, 
so  the  meaning  or  necessity  of  our  words  is  a  second- 
ary consideration  if  there  be  but  a  great  parade  of  them. 
And  as  individuals  get  into  trouble  by  making  too  great 
a  show  of  liveries,  or  as  slaves  when  they  are  too  numer- 
ous rise  against  their  masters,  so  I  think  I  could  mention 
a  nation  that  has  got  into  many  great  difficulties,  and 
will  get  into  many  greater,  from  maintaining  too  large 
a  retinue  of  words.'     [David  Copperfield,  p.  702.)^  ;^>j 

136.  No  doubt  many  of  the  synonymous  terms  intro- 
duced from  Latin  and  Greek  had  best  been  let  alone.  No 
one  would  have  missed  pharos  by  the  side  of  lighthouse, 
or  nigritude  by  the  side  of  blackness.  The  native  words 
cold,  cool,  chill,  chilly,  icy,  frosty  might  have  seemed  suf- 
ficient for  all  purposes,  without  any  necessity  for  im- 
porting frigid,  gelid,  and  algid,  which,  as  a  matter  of  fact, 
are  neither  found  in  Shakespeare  nor  in  the  Authorized 
Version  of  the  Bible  nor  in  the  poetical  works  of  Milton, 
Pope,  Cowper,  and  Shelley. 

137.  Apart  from  the  advantage  of  being  able  con- 
stantly to  make  a  choice  between  words  possessing  a 
different  number  of  syllables  and  often  also  presenting 
a  difference  in  the  place  of  the  accent,  poets  will  often 

I  Mr.  Micawber  also  has  the  following  delightful  piece  of 
bathos:  'It  is  not  an  avocation  of  a  remunerative  description  — 
in  other  words,  it  does  ?tot  pay.' 


Big  Words.  l^g 

find  the  sonorous  Latin  words  better  for  their  purposes 
than  the  short  native  ones.  In  some  kinds  of  prose 
writing,  too,  they  are  felt  to  heighten  the  tone,  and  add 
dignity,  even  majesty,  to  the  structure  of  the  sentence. 
The  chief  reason  of  this  seems  to  be  that  the  long  word 
takes  up  more  time.  Instead  of  hurrying  the  reader  or 
listener  on  to  the  next  idea,  it  allows  his  mind  to  dwell 
for  a  longer  time  upon  the  same  idea;  it  gives  time  for 
his  reflexion  to  be  deeper  and  especially  for  his  emotion 
to  be  stronger.  This  seems  to  me  more  important  than 
the  two  other  reasons  given  by  H.  Spencer  (Essays,  II, 
p.  14)  that  'a  voluminous,  mouth-filling  epithet  is,  by 
its  very  size,  suggestive  of  largeness  or  strength'  and  that 
'a  word  of  several  syllables  admits  of  more  emphatic 
articulation  (.?);  and  as  emphatic  articulation  is  a  sign 
of  emotion,  the  unusual  impressiveness  of  the  thing 
named  is  implied  by  it.'  Let  me  quote  here  also  a 
quaint  passage  (not  to  be  taken  too  seriously)  from 
Howell  (New  English  Grammar,  1662,  p.  40):  'The 
Spanish  abound  and  delight  in  words  of  many  syllables, 
and  where  the  English  expresseth  himself  in  one 
syllable,  he  doth  in  5  or  6,  as  thoughts  pensamientos, 
fray  levantamiento  &c,  which  is  held  a  part  of  wisdom, 
for  while  they  speak  they  take  time  to  consider  of  the 

138.  It  is  often  said  that  the  classical  elements  are 
commendable  on  the  score  of  international  intelligibility, 
and  it  is  certain  that  many  of  them,  even  of  those  formed 
during  the  last  century  on  more  or  less  exact  Latin 
and  Greek  analogy,  are  used  in  many  other  civilized 
countries  as  well  as  in  England.  The  utility  of  this  is 
evident  in  our  days  of  easy  communication  between  the 
nations;  but  on  the  whole  its  utility  should  not  be  valued 
beyond  measure.  If  the  thing  to  be  named  is  one  of 
everyday  importance,  national  convenience  should  cer- 

j^o  VI-  Latin  and  Greek. 

tainly  be  considered  before  international  ease;  there- 
fore to  wire  and  a  wire  are  preferable  to  telegraph  and 
telegram.'^  Scientific  nomenclature  is  to  a  great  extent 
universal,  and  there  is  no  reason  why  each  nation  should 
have  its  own  name  for  foraminifera  or  monocotyledones.  But 
so  much  of  science  is  now  becoming  more  and  more  the 
property  of  everybody  and  influences  daily  life  so  deeply 
that  the  endeavour  should  rather  be  to  have  popular 
than  learned  names  for  whatever  in  science  is  not  in- 
tended exclusively  for  the  specialist.  Sleeplessness  is  a 
better  name  than  insomnia,  and  foreigners  who  know 
English  enough  to  read  a  medical  treatise  in  it  will  be  no 
more  perplexed  by  the  word  than  an  Englishman  read- 
ing German  is  by  schlajlosigkeit.  Foreign  phoneticians 
have  had  no  difficulty  in  understanding  Melville  Bell's 
excellent  nomenclature  and  have  even  to  a  great  extent 
adopted  the  English  terms  of  front,  mixed,  hack,  etc.  in 
preference  to  the  more  cumbersome  palatal,  gutturo- 
palatal,  and  guttural.  It  is  a  pity  that  half-vowel  (Googe 
1577)  and  half-vowelish  (Ben  Jonson)  should  have  been 
superseded  by  semi-vowel  and  semi-vowel-like.  Among 
English  words  that  have  been  in  recent  times  adopted 
by  many  foreign  languages  may  be  mentioned  cheque, 
box  (in  a  bank),  trust,  film  (in  photography),  sport,  jockey, 
sulky,  gig,  handicap,  dock,  waterproof,  tender,  coke  (Ger- 
man and  Danish  koks  or  sometimes  with  Pseudo- English 
spelling  coaks),  so  that  even  to  obtain  international  cur- 
rency a  word  need  not  have  a  learned  appearance  or  be 
derived  from  Greek  and  Latin  roots.  Besides,  many 
of  the  latter  class  are  not  quite  so  international  as  might 
be  supposed,  as  their  English  significations  are  unknown 
on  the  continent  (pathos,  physic,  concurrent,  competition. 

I   And  why  not  use   wireless  as  a  verb  too?     'Admiral  N. 
has  wirelessed  that  a  Russian  man-of-war  is  in  sight',  etc. 

Internationality.  iai 

actual,  eventual,  injury);  sometimes,  also,  the  ending 
is  different ,  as  in  principle  (Fr.  principe ,  etc.) ,  in- 
dividual (Fr.  individu,  German  individuum),  chemistry 
(chimie ,  chemie) ,  botany  (botanique) ,  fanaticism  (fana- 

139.  It  is  possible  to  point  out  a  certain  number  of 
inherent  deficiencies  which  affect  parts  of  the  vocabulary 
borrowed  from  the  classical  language.  Mention  has  al- 
ready been  made  (§  26)  of  the  stress-shifting  which  is  so 
contrary  to  the  general  spirit  of  Germanic  tongues  and 
which  obscures  the  relation  between  connected  words, 
especially  in  a  language  where  unstressed  syllables  are 
generally  pronounced  with  such  indistinct  vowel  sounds  as 
in  English.  Compare,  for  instance,  solid  and  solidity, 
pathos  and  pathetic,  pathology  and  pathologic,  pacify  and 
pacific  (note  that  the  first  two  syllables  of  pacification, 
where  the  strongest  stress  is  on  the  fourth  syllable,  va- 
cillate between  the  two  corresponding  pronunciations). 
The  incongruity  is  especially  disagreeable  when  native 
names  are  distorted  by  means  of  a  learned  derivative 
ending,  as  when  Milton  has  the  stress  shifted  on  to  the 
second  syllable  and  the  vowel  changed  (in  two  different 
ways)  in  Miltonic  and  Miltonian;  cf.  also  Baconian, 
Dickensian,  Taylorian,  Spenserian,  Canadian,  Dorset- 
tan,  etc. 

140.  Another  drawback  is  shown  in  the  relation  be- 
tween emit  and  immit,  emerge  and  immerge.  While  in 
Latin  emitto  and  immitto,  emergo  and  immergo  were  easily 
kept  apart,  because  the  vowels  were  distinct  and  double 
consonants  were  rigorously  pronounced  double  and  so 
kept  apart  from  single  ones,  the  natural  English  pronun- 
ciation will  confound  them,  just  as  it  confounds  the  first 
syllables  of  immediate  and  emotion.  Now,  as  the  meaning 
of  e-  is  the  exact  opposite  of  in-,  the  two  pairs  do  not 
go  well  together  in  the  same  language.  The  same  is  true  of 

J  4.2  ^I-  Latin  and  Greek. 

illusion  and  elusion.'^  A  still  greater  drawback  arises 
from  the  two  meanings  of  initial  in,  which  is  sometimes 
the  negative  prefix  and  sometimes  the  preposition.  Ac- 
cording to  dictionaries  investigahle  means  (i)  that  may 
be  investigated,  (2)  incapable  of  being  investigated,  and 
'infusible  (i)  that  may  be  infused  or  poured  in,  (2)  in- 
capable of  being  fused  or  melted.  Importable,  which  is 
now  only  used  as  derived  from  import  (capable  of  being 
imported)  had  formerly  also  the  meaning  'unbearable', 
and  improvable  similarly  had  the  meaning  of  'incapable 
of  being  proved'  though  it  only  retains  that  of  'capable 
of  being  improved'.  What  Shakespeare  in  one  passage 
(Temp.  II.  I.  37)  expresses  in  accordance  with  modern 
usage  by  the  word  uninhabitable  he  elsewhere  calls  in- 
habitable (Even  to  the  frozen  ridges  of  the  Alpes,  Or  any 
other  ground  inhabitable,  R  2  I.  i.  65),  and  the  ambi- 
guity of  the  latter  word  has  now  led  to  the  curious  re- 
sult that  the  positive  adjective  corresponding  to  inhabit 
is  habitable  and  the  negative  uninhabitable.  The  first 
syllable  of  inebriety  is  the  preposition  in-,  so  that  it  means 
the  same  thing  as  the  rare  ebriety  'drunkenness',  but  Th. 
Hook  mistook  it  for  the  negative  prefix  and  so,  subtract- 
ing in-,  made  ebriety  mean  'sobriety'. ^  Illustrious  is 
used  in  Shakespeare's  Cymb.  I.  6.  109  as  the  negative 
of  lustrous,  while  elsewhere  it  has  the  exactly  opposite 
signification.  Fortunately  this  ambiguity  is  Hmited  to 
a  comparative  small  portion  of  the  vocabulary.^ 

1  Illiterate  spellers  will  often  write  illicit  for  elicit,  enumerable 
for  innumerable,  etc.  Many  words  have  had,  and  some  still  have, 
two  spellings,  with  e7i-  (em-)  from  the  French,  and  with  in-  (im-) 
from  the  Latin  {enquire,  inquire,  etc.)  jH 

2  See  quotation  in  Davies,  Supplementary  English  Glossary  "^ 

3  If  invaluable  means  generally  'very  valuable'  and  some-      J 
times  'valueless',  the  case  is  obviously  different  from  the  above,      '-i 

Want  of  Harmony.  1 43 

141.  Loan-words  do  not  necessarily  n^ake  a  language 
inharmonious.  In  Finnish,  for  instance,  in  spite  of 
numerous  loans  from  a  variety  of  languages,  the  prevailing 
impression  is  one  of  unity,  apart  perhaps  from  some  of 
the  most  recent  Swedish  words.  The  foreign  elements 
have  been  so  assimilated  in  sound  and  inflexion  as  to 
be  recognizable  as  foreign  only  to  the  eye  of  a  philologist. 
The  same  may  be  said  of  the  pre-Conquest  borrowings 
from  Latin  into  English,  of  the  Scandinavian  and  of  the 
most  important  among  the  French  loans,  nay  even  of  a 
great  many  recent  loans  from  exotic  languages.  Wine 
and  tea,  bacon  and  eggs,  orange  and  sugar,  plunder  and 
war,  prison  and  judge  —  all  are  not  only  indispensable, 
but  harmonious  elements  of  English.  But  while  most 
people  are  astonished  on  first  hearing  that  such  words 
have  not  always  belonged  to  their  language,  no  philo- 
logical training  is  required  to  discover  that  phenomenon  or 
diphtheriaor  intellectual  on  latitudinarian3.rQ  out  of  harmony 
with  the  real  core  or  central  part  of  the  language.  Every 
j  one  must  feel  the  incongruity  of  such  sets  of  words  as 
I  father  —  paternal  —  parricide  or  of  the  abnormal  plurals 
which  break  the  beautiful  regularity  of  nearly  all  English 
!  substantives  —  phenomena,  nuclei,  larvce,  chrysalides,  indices^ 
etc.  The  occasional  occurrence  of  such  blundering  plurals  as 
animalcules  and  ignorami  is  an  unconscious  protest  against 
the  prevalent  pedantry  of  schoolmasters  in  this  respect.^ 

I  '  He  may  also  see  giraffes,  lions  or  rhinoceros.  The  mention 
of  this  last  word  reminds  me  of  a  problem,  which  has  tormented 
me  all  the  time  that  I  have  been  in  East  Africa,  namely,  what 
is  the  plural  of  rhinoceros?  The  conversational  abbreviations, 
'rhino',  'rhinos',  seem  beneath  the  dignity  of  literature,  and 
to  use  the  sporting  idiom  by  which  the  singular  is  always  put 
for  the  plural  is  merely  to  avoid  the  difficulty.  Liddell  and 
Scott  seem  to   authorize  'rhinocerotes'  which  is  pedantic,  but 

,      'rhinoceroses'  is  not  euphonious.'    Sir  Charles  Eliot,   The  East 

I,     Africa  Protectorate  (1905)  P-  266. 

jAA  VI.  Latin  and  Greek. 

142.  The  unnatural  state  into  which  the  language  has    ^ 
been  thrown  by  the  wholesale  adoption  of  learned  words 

is  further  manifested  by  the  fact  that  not  a  few  of  them 
have  no  fixed  pronunciation;  they  are,  in  fact,  eye-words 
that  do  not  really  exist  in  the  language.  Educated  people 
freely  write  them  and  understand  them  when  they  see 
them  written,  but  are  more  or  less  puzzled  when  they  have 
to  pronounce  them.  Dr.  Murray  relates  how  he  was  once 
present  at  a  meeting  of  a  learned  society,  where  in  the 
course  of  discussion  he  heard  the  word  gaseous  systema- 
tically pronounced  in  six  different  ways  by  as  many  emin- 
ent physicists.  (NED.,  Preface.)  Diatribist  is  by  Murray 
and  the  Century  Dictionary  stressed  on  the  first,  by 
Webster  on  the  second  syllable,  and  the  same  hesitation 
is  found  with  phonotypy,  photochromy,  and  many  similar 
words.  This  is,  however,  beaten  by  two  so  well-known 
words  as  hegemony  and  phthisis,  for  each  of  which  diction- 
aries record  no  less  than  nine  possible  pronunciations 
without  being  able  to  tell  us  which  of  these  is  the  preval- 
ent or  preferable  one.  I  doubt  very  much  whether  anal- 
ogous   waverings  can  be  found  in  any  other  language. 

143.  The  worst  thing,  however,  that  can  be  said 
against  the  words  that  are  occupying  us  here  is  their 
difficulty  and  the  undemocratic  character  which  is  a 
natural  outcome  of  their  difficulty.  A  great  many  of 
them  will  never  be  used  or  understood  by  anybody  that 
has  not  had  a  classical  education^.  There  are  usually  no 
associations  of  ideas  between  them  and  the  ordinary 
stock  of  words,  and  no  likenesses  in  root  or  in  the  form- 
ative   elements    to    assist    the   memory.     We  have  here 

I  Sometimes  they  are  not  even  understood  by  the  erudite 
themselves,  Gestic  in  Goldsmiths  'skill'd  in  gestic  lore'  (Trav- 
eller 253)  is  taken  in  all  dictionaries  as  meaning  'legendary, 
historical'  as  \{  ixon\  gest ,  OYx.  geste  'sX.Qixy ,  romance';  but  the 
context  shows  conclusively  that  'pertaining  to  bodily  movement, 
esp.  dancing'    (NED.)   must    be    the    meaning;    cf,  Lat.  gestus 


Malapropisms.  14c 

none  of  those  invisible  threads  that  knit  words  together 
in  the  human  mind.  Their  great  number  in  the  language 
is  therefore  apt  to  form  or  rather  to  accentuate  class 
divisions,  so  that  a  man's  culture  is  largely  judged  of 
by  the  extent  to  which  he  is  able  correctly  to  handle 
these  hard  words  in  speech  and  in  writing — certainly 
not  the  highest  imaginable  standard  of  a  man's  worth. 
No  literature  in  the  world  abounds  as  English  does  in 
characters  made  ridiculous  to  the  reader  by  the  manner 
in  which  they  misapply  or  distort  'big'  words.  Shake- 
speare's Dogberry  and  Mrs.  Quickly,  Fielding's  Mrs.  Slip- 
slop, Smollet's  Winifred  Jenkins,  Sheridan's  Mrs.  Mala- 
prop,  Dickens's  Weller  senior,  Shillaber's  Mrs.  Parting- 
ton, and  footmen  and  labourers  innumerable  made  fun 
of  in  novels  and  comedies  might  all  of  them  appear  in 
court  as  witnesses  for  the  plaintiff  in  a  law-suit  brought 
against  the  educated  classes  of  England  for  wilfully  mak- 
ing the  language  more  complicated  than  necessary  and 
thereby  hindering  the  spread  of  education  among  all 
classes  of  the  population. 

144.  Different  authors  vary  very  greatly  with  regard 
to  the  extent  to  which  they  make  use  of  such  'choice 
words,  and  measured  phrase  above  the  reach  of  ordinary 
men'.  So  much  is  said  on  this  head  in  easily  accessible 
textbooks  on  literature  that  I  need  not  repeat  it  here. 
Unfortunately  the  statistical  calculations  given  there  of 
the  percentage  of  native  and  of  foreign  words  in  different 
writers  are  not  quite  to  the  point,  for  while  they  generally 
include  Scandinavian  loans  among  native  words,  they 
reckon  together  all  words  of  classical  origin,  although 
such  popular  words  as  cry  or  crown  have  evidently  quite 

'gesture'.  Arista? chy  has  been  wrongly  interpreted  in  most 
dictionaries  as  'a  body  of  good  men  in  power',  while  it  is 
derived  from  the  proper  name  Aristarch  and  means  'a  body 
of  severe  critics'.     (Fitzedward  Hall,  Modern  English  143.) 

Jbspersen:  English.   2nd  ed.  10 


VI.  Latin  and  Greek. 

a  different  standing  in  the  language  from  learned  words 
like  auditory  or  hymenoptera.  The  culmination  with  regard 
to  the  use  of  learned  words  in  ordinary  literary  style  was 
reached  in  the  time  of  Dr.  Samuel  Johnson.  I  can  find 
no  better  example  to  illustrate  the  effect  of  extreme 
'Johnsonese'  than  the  following:  — 

'The  proverbial  oracles  of  our  parsimonious  ancestors 
have  informed  us,  that  the  fatal  waste  of  our  fortune  is 
by  small  expenses,  by  the  profusion  of  sums  too  little 
singly  to  alarm  our  caution,  and  which  we  never  suffer 
ourselves  to  consider  together.  Of  the  same  kind  is  the  J 
prodigahty  of  life;  he  that  hopes  to  look  back  hereafter 
with  satisfaction  upon  past  years,  must  learn  to  know 
the  present  value  of  single  minutes,  and  endeavour  to 
let  no  particle  of  time  fall  useless  to  the  ground.'^ 

145.  In  his  Essay  on  Madame  D'Arblay  Macaulay 
gives  some  delightful  samples  of  this  style  as  developed 
by  that  ardent  admirer  of  Dr.  Johnson.  Sheridan  refused 
to  permit  his  lovely  wife  to  sing  in  public,  and  was 
warmly  praised  on  this  account  by  Johnson.  'The  last 
of  men,'  says  Madame  D'Arblay,  'was  Doctor  Johnson 
to  have  abetted  squandering  the  delicacy  of  integrity 
by  nullifying  the  labours  of  talent.'  To  be  starved  to 
death  is  'to  sink  from  inanition  into  nonentity.'  Sir 
Isaac  Newton  is  'the  developer  of  the  skies  in  their  em.- 
bodied  movements',  and  Mrs.  Thrale,  when  a  party  of 
clever  people  sat  silent,  is  said  to  have  been  'provoked 
by  the  dulness  of  a  taciturnity  that,  in  the  midst  of  such 
renowned  interloculors,  produced  as  narcotic  a  torpor  as 
could  have  been  caused  by  a  death  the  most  barren  of 

I  Minto  {Manual  of  Engl.  Prose  Lit  422)  translates  this  as 
follows:  'Take  care  of  the  pennies',  says  the  thrifty  old  proverb, 
•  and  the  pounds  will  take  care  of  themselves.'  In  like  manner 
we  might  say,  'Take  care  of  the  minutes,  and  the  years  will 
take  care  of  themselves.' 

Johnsonese,  jaj 

all  human  faculties/    (Macaulay,  Essays,  Tauchn.  ed.  V. 

p.  65.) 

146.  In  the  nineteenth  century  a  most  happy  reaction 
set  in  in  favor  of  'Saxon'  words  and  natural  expressions ; 
and  it  is  highly  significant  that  Tennyson,  for  instance, 
prides  himself  on  having  in  the  'Idylls  of  the  King'  used 
Latin  words  more  sparingly  than  any  other  poet.  But 
still  the  malady  lingers  on,  especially  with  the  half-edu- 
cated. I  quote  from  a  newspaper  the  following  story: 
The  young  lady  home  from  school  was  explaining.  'Take 
an  egg',  she  said,  'and  make  a  perforation  in  the  base 
and  a  corresponding  one  in  the  apex.  Then  apply  the 
lips  to  the  aperture,  and  by  forcibly  inhaling  the  breath 
the  shell  is  entirely  discharged  of  its  contents.'  An  old 
lady  who  was  listening  exclaimed:  'It  beats  all  how  folks 
do  things  nowadays.  When  I  was  a  gal  they  made  a 
hole  in  each  end  and  sucked.'  —  To  a  different  class 
belongs  that  master  of  Saxon  English,  Charles  Lamb, 
who  begins  his  'Chapter  on  Ears'  in  the  following  way: 
*I  have  no  ear.  Mistake  me  not,  reader,  —  nor  imagine 
that  I  am  by  nature  destitute  of  those  exterior  twin  appen- 
dages, hanging  ornaments,  and  (architecturally  speaking) 
handsome  volutes  to  the  human  capital.  Better  my 
mother  had  never  borne  me.  I  am,  I  think,  rather 
delicately  than  copiously  provided  with  those  conduits; 
and  I  feel  no  disposition  to  envy  the  mule  for  his 
plenty,  or  the  mole  for  her  exactness ,  in  those  latjiyrin- 
thine  inlets  —  those  indispensable  side  -  intelligencers.' 
0.  W.  Holmes,  in  his  'Our  Hundred  Days  in  Europe' 
avoids  the  simple  expression  'a  shaving  machine'  and 
'beard',  and  writes  instead  'a  reaping  machine  which 
gathered   the   capillary  harvest  of  the  past   twenty  -  four 

lours in  short,    a  lawn-mower    for    the    mas- 

,:uline    growth    of    which    the    proprietor  wishes   to  rid 
•lis  countenance.' 


148  VI.  Latin  and  Greek. 

-  147.  Of  course,  the  authors  of  these  two'sample)  aim 
in  them  at  a  certain  humorous  effect,  and  very  often 
similar  circumlocutions  are  consciously  resorted  to  in 
conversation  to  obtain  a  ludicrous  effect,  as  'he  ampu- 
tated his  mahogany'  (cut  his  stick,  went  off),  'to  agitate  j 
the  communicator'  (ring  the  bell),  'are  your  corporeal 
functions  in  a  condition  of  solubility.?*',  *a  sanguinary 
nasal  protuberance',  'the  Recent  Incision'  (the  New  Cut, 
a  street  in  London),  'the  Grove  of  the  Evangehst'  (St. 
John's  Wood  in  London),  etc.  When  Mr.  Bob  Sawyer 
asked  'I  say,  old  boy,  where  do  you  hang  out.?'  Mr.  Pick 
wick  replied  that  he  was  at  present  suspended  at  the 
George  and  Vulture.  (Dickens,  Pickw.  II  13.)  Punch 
somewhere  gives  the  following  paraphrases  of  well-known 
proverbs:  'Iniquitous  intercourses  contaminate  proper 
habits.  In  the  absence  of  the  feline  race,  the  mice  give 
themselves  up  to  various  pastimes.  Casualties  w411  take 
place  in  the  most  excellently  conducted  family  circles. 
More  confectioners  than  are  absolutely  necessary  are  apt 
to  ruin  the  potage.'  (Quoted  in  Fitzgerald's  Miscellanies^ 
p.  166).  Similarly  *A  rolling  stone  gathers  no  moss'  is 
paraphrased  'Cryptogamous  concretion  never  grows  On 
mineral  fragments  that  decline  repose'.  Some  Latin  and 
Greek  words  will  scarcely  ever  be  used  except  in  jocular 
or  ironical  speech,  such  as  sapient  (wise),  histrion  (actor),j 
a  virgin  aunt  (maiden  aunt),  hylactism  (barking),  edacious^ 
(greedy),  the  genus  Homo  (mankind),  etc. 

148.  But  how  many  words  are  there  not  which  belong 
virtually  to  the  same  class,  but  are  used  in  dead  earnest 
by  people  who  know  that  many  big  words  are  found  in 
the  best  authors  and  who  want  to  show  off  their  education 
by  avoiding  plain  everyday  expressions  and  by  couching 
their  thoughts  in  a  would-be  refined  style.I*  When  Canning 
wrote  the  inscription  graven  on  Pitt's  monument  in  the 
London   Guildhall,    an   Alderman  felt   much  disgust   at 



the  grand  phrase,  'he  died  poor',  and  wished  to  substitute 
'he  expired  in  indigent  circumstances'.  Mr.  Kington 
Oliphant,  who  relates  this  (The  New  English  II  232), 
justly  remarks,  'Could  the  difference  between  the 
scholarlike  and  the  vulgar  be  more  happily  marked .>' 
James  Russell  Lowell ,  in  the  Introduction  to  the 
Second  Series  of  his  Biglow  Papers,  has  a  list  of  what 
he  calls  the  old  and  the  new  styles  of  newspaper 
writing,  which  I  find  so  characteristic  that  I  select  a  few 
samples :  — 

New  Style. 

A    vast    concourse    was    as- 
sembled to  witness. 

Old  Style. 
A  great  crowd  came  to  see. 

Great  fire. 

The  fire  spread. 

Man  fell. 

Sent  for  the  doctor 

Began  his  answer. 
He  died. 

Disastrous  conflagration. 

The  conflagration  extended 
its  devastating  career. 

Individual  was  precipitated. 

Called  into  requisition  the 
services  of  the  family  phy- 

Commenced  his  rejoinder. 

He  deceased,  he  passed  out 
of  existence,  his  spirit 
quitted  its  earthly  habit- 
ation, winged  its  way  to 
eternity,  shook  off  its  bur- 
den, etc. 

149.  I  do  not  deny  that  somewhat  parallel  instances 
of  stilted  language  might  be  culled  from  the  daily  press 
of  most  other  nations,  but  nowhere  else  are  they  found 
in  such  plenty  as  in  English,  and  no  other  language  lends 
itself  by  its  very  structure  to  such  vile  stylistic  tricks  as 
English  does.  Wordsworth  writes:  'And  sitting  on  the 
grass     partook     The    fragrant     beverage     drawn     from 

I  CO  VI.  Latin  and  Creek. 

China's  herb',   to  which  Tennyson  remarked :  'Why  could 
he  not  have  said  'And  sitting  on  the  grass  had  tea?'^ 
Gissing  in  one  of  his  novels  says  of  a  clergyman:  'One 
might  have  suspected  that  he  had  made  a  list  of  uncom- 
mon words  wherewith  to  adorn  his  discourse,  for  certain 
of  these  frequently  recurred.  'Nullifidian',  'morbific',  're- 
nascent', were  among  his  favourites.     Once  or  twice  he 
spoke  of  'psychogenesis',  with  an  emphatic  enunciation 
which  seemed  to  invite  respectful  wonder'. ^   And  did  not 
little  Thomas  Babington  Macaulay,  when  four  years  old,    ^ 
reply  to  a  lady  who  took  pity  on  him  after  he  had  spilt 
some  hot  coffee  over  his  legs,  'Thank  you,  madam,  the 
agony  is  abated'?    And  does  not  a  language  which  pos- 
sesses, besides  the  natural  expression  for  each  thing,  two 
or  three  sonorous  equivalents,  tempt  a  writer  into  what 
Lecky  hits  off  so  well  when  he  says  of  Gladstone:  'He 
seemed  sometimes  to  be  labouring  to  show  with  how 
many  words   a  simple   thought   could   be   expressed   or 

150.  To  sum  up:  the  classical  words  adopted  since 
the  Renaissance  have  enriched  the  English  language  very 
greatly  and  have  especially  increased  its  number  of  syn- 
onyms. But  it  is  not  every  'enrichment'  that  is  an 
advantage,  and  this  one  comprises  much  that  is  really 
superfluous,  or  worse  than  superfluous,  and  has,  more- 
over, stunted  the  growth  of  native  formations.  The  inter- 
national currency  of  many  words  is  not  a  full  compen- 
sation for  their  want  of  harmony  with  the  core  of  the 
language  and  for  the  undemocratic  character  they  give 
to  the  vocabulary.  While  the  composite  character  of  the 
language  gives  variety  and  to  some  extent  precision  to  the 

1  Life  and  Letters  III.  60. 

2  Born  in  Exile  380. 

3  Democracy  and  Libtrty  I.  p.  XXI. 

Summing-up.  i^i 

style  of  the  greatest  masters,  on  the  other  hand  it  en- 
courages an  inflated  turgidity  of  style.  Without  siding 
completely  with  Milton's  teacher  Alexander  Gill,  who 
says  that  classical  studies  have  done  the  English  language 
more  harm  than  ever  the  cruelties  of  the  Danes  or  the 
devastations  of  the  Normans^,  we  shall  probably  be  near 
the  truth  if  we  recognize  in  the  latest  influence  from  the 
classical  languages  'something  between  a  hindrance  and 
a  help/ 

I  Ad  Latina  venio.  Et  si  uspiam  querelas  locus,  hie  est; 
quod  otium,  quod  literae,  maiorem  cladem  sermoni  Anglico 
intulerint  quam  uUa  Danorum  ssevitia,  uUa  Normannorum 
vastitas  unquam  inflixerit.  Logonomia  Anglica  162 1  (Jiriczek's 
reprint,  Strassburg  1903,  p.  43.) 

Chapter  VII. 
Various  Sources. 

151.  Although  Enghsh  has  borrowed  a  great  many 
words  from  other  languages  than  those  mentioned  in  the 
preceding  chapters,  these  borrowings  need  not  occupy 
us  long  here.  For  only  Scandinavian,  French,  and  Latin 
have  left  a  mark  on  English  deep  enough  to  modify  its 
character  and  to  change  its  structure,  and  numerous  as 
are  the  words  it  has  borrowed  from  Dutch,  Italian,  Span- 
ish, German,  etc.,  the  English  language  would  remain 
the  same  in  every  essential  respect  even  were  they  all 
to  disappear  to-morrow.  Many  of  the  words  taken  over 
from  other  languages  are  indeed  extremely  interesting 
from  many  points  of  view,  and  the  student  who  should 
go  through  the  lists  given  by  Skeat'  with  a  view  to 
arranging  them  in  groups  according  to  their  signification 
would  be  able  to  draw^many  important  inferences  with 
regard  to  England's  commercial  and  other  relations  with 
many  nations.  Attention  has  already  been  called  to  the 
musical  terms  derived  from  Italian  (§  31),  and  a  similar 
list  of  terms  of  architecture  and  art  in  general  taken 
from  the  same  language  (e.  g.  colonnade,  cornice,  corri- 
dor, grotto,  niche,  parapet,  pilaster,  profile;  miniature, 
fresco;  improvisatore,  motto)  could  be  made  the  basis  of 

I  In  his  Etymological  Dictionary  and  Principles  of  English 

Foreign  Words.  I  53 

an  interesting  chapter  in  a  history  of  European  civilization, 
A  considerable  number  of  military  words  (e.  g.  alarm 
or  alarum,  cartridge,  corporal,  cuirass,  pistol,  sentinel) 
carry  us  back  to  wars  between  Italy  and  France;  and 
still  other  lessons  in  military  history  might  be  learnt  from 
the  existence  in  Enghsh  of  two  synonyms,  plunder,  a 
German  word  introduced  in  the  middle  of  the  seventeenth 
century  by  soldiers  who  had  served  under  Gustavus 
Adolphus,  and  loot,  a  Hindi  word  learnt  by  English 
soldiers  in  India  about  a  hundred  years  ago.  But  it 
would  lead  us  too  far  if  we  were  to  give  many  such  in- 

152.  There  is,  of  course,  nothing  peculiarly  English 
in  the  adoption  of  such  words  as  maccaroni  and  lava 
from  Italian,  steppe  and  verst  from  Russian,  caravan  and 
dervish  from  Persian,  hussar  and  shako  from  Hungarian, 
hey  and  caftan  from  Turkish,  harem  and  mufti  from 
Arabic,  bamboo  and  orang-outang  from  Malay,  taboo  from 
Polynesian,  chocolate  and  tomato  from  Mexican,  moccassin, 
tomahawk,  and  totem  from  other  American  languages. 
As  a  matter  of  fact,  all  these  words  now  belong  to  the 
whole  of  the  civilized  world;  like  such  classical  or  pseudo- 
classical  words  as  nationality,  telegram,  and  civilization 
they  bear  witness  to  the  sameness  of  modern  culture 
everywhere :  the  same  products  and  to  a  great  extent  the 
same  ideas  are  now  known  all  over  the  globe  and  many 
of  them  have  in  many  languages  identical  names. 

153.  And  yet,  English  differs  from  most  other  languages 
in  that  it  is  more  inclined  than  they  are  to  swallow 
foreign  words  raw,  so  to  speak,  instead  of  preferring  to 
translate  the  foreign  expression  into  some  native  equi- 
valent. Thus  English  has  taken  over  the  German  word 
kindergarten  unchanged,  while  for  the  same  institution 
Danish  has  the  literal  translation  bornehave  and  Nor- 
wegian barnehave. 

ICA  VII.  Various  Sources. 

154.  An  interesting  contrast  may  be  seen  between  the 
behaviour  in  this  respect  of  the  Dutch  and  the  English 
in  South  Africa.  The  former,  finding  there  a  great  many- 
natural  objets  which  were  new  to  them,  designated  them 
either  by  means  of  existing  Dutch  words  whose  meanings 
were,  accordingly,  more  or  less  modified,  or  else  by 
coining  new  words,  generally  compounds.  Thus  shot 
'ditch'  was  applied  to  the  peculiar  dry  rivers  of  that 
country,  veld  'field'  to  the  open  pasturages,  and  kopje 
'a  little  head  or  cup'  to  the  hills,  etc.;  different  kinds  of 
animals  were  called  roodehok  ('red-buck'),  steenbok  ('stone- 
buck'),  springbok  ('hop-buck'),  springhaas  ('hop-hare'), 
hartebeest  ('hart-beast');  a  certain  bird  was  called  slang- 
vreter  ('serpent-eater'),  a  certain  large  shrub  spekboom 
('bacon-tree'),  etc.  The  English,  on  the  other  hand, 
instead  of  imitating  this  principle,  have  simply  taken 
over  all  these  names  into  their  own  language,  where  they 
now  figure^  together  with  some  other  South  African 
Dutch  words,  among  which  may  be  mentioned  trek  and 
spoor,  in  the  special  significations  of  'colonial  migration' 
and  'track  of  wild  animal',  while  the  Dutch  words  are  I 
much  less  specialized  [trekken  'to  draw,  pull,  travel, 
move';  spoor  'trace,  track,  rail').  These  examples  of 
borrowings  might  easily  be  multiplied  from  other  do- 
mains, and  we  may  say  of  the  English  what  Moth  says 
of  Holofernes  and  Sir  Nathaniel  that  'they  have  been  at 
a  great  feast  of  languages,  and  stolne  the  scraps'  (Love's 
L.  L.  V.  I  39).  It  will  therefore  be  natural  to  inquire  into 
the  cause  of  this  linguistic  omnivorousness. 

155.  It  would,  of  course,  be  irrational  to  ascribe  the 
phenomenon  to  a  greater  natural   gift  for   learning   lan- 

I  Roodebok  often  spelt  in  accordance  with  the  actual  Dutch 
pronunciation  rooibok,  rooyebok.  Shot  often  appears  in  the  un- 
Dutch  spelling  sluit. 

South  Africa.  155 

guages,  for  in  the  first  place,  the  English  are  not  usually 
credited  with  such  a  gift,  and  secondly  the  best  linguists 
are  generally  inclined  to  keep  their  own  language  pure 
rather  than  adulterate  it  with  scraps  of  other  languages. 
Consequently,  we  should  be  nearer  the  truth  if  we  were 
to  give  as  a  reason  the  linguistic  incapacity  of  the  average 
Englishman.  As  a  traveller  and  a  colonizer,  however, 
he  is  thrown  into  contact  with  people  of  a  great  many 
different  nations  and  thus  cannot  help  seeing  numerous 
things  and  institutions  unknown  in  England.  R.L.Steven- 
son says  somewhere  about  the  typical  John  Bull,  that 
'his  is  a  domineering  nature,  steady  in  fight,  imperious 
to  command,  but  neither  curious  nor  quick  about  the 
life  of  others'.^  And  perhaps  the  loan-words  we  are  con- 
sidering, testify  to  nothing  but  the  most  superficial  curios- 
ity about  the  life  of  other  nations  and  would  not  have 
been  adopted  if  John  Bull  had  really  in  his  heart  cared 
any  more  than  this  for  the  foreigners  he  meets.  He  is 
content  to  pick  up  a  few  scattered  fragments  of  their 
speech  — just  enough  to  impart  a  certain  local  colouring 
to  his  narratives  and  political  discussions,  but  he  goes  no 

156.  A  rather  different  attitude  towards  foreign  words 
seems  to  have  been  taken  in  former  times.  On  the  one 
hand,  some  foreign  place-names  of  obvious  etymology 
were  translated;  the  Black  Forest  is  one  of  these  trans- 
lations which  has  been  retained,  while  now  the  Siehen- 
gehirge  and  the  Riesengehirge  are  terms  more  commonly 
used  than  the  Seven  Mountains  and  the  Giant  Mountains. 
On  the  other  hand,  the  title  signior  was  in  the  times  of 
Shakespeare  used  very  frequently  in  speaking  about 
others  than  Italians,  while  now  such  titles  are  only  applied 
to  natives  of  the  country  the  titles  are  borrowed  from. 

I  Memories  and  Portraits,  p.  3. 

ic6  VII.  Various  Sources. 

It  is,  indeed,  a  characteristic  feature  that  foreigners  are 
mentioned  in  England  as  Signor  Manfredini,  Herr 
Schultze,  Fraulein  Adler,  etc.,  who  in  France  would  be 
simply  Monsieur  or  Mademoiselle  So-and-so.  This  may 
be  interpreted  as  a  sign  of  a  great  respect  for  or  deference 
to  foreigners,  and  perhaps  that  is  true  in  the  case  of 
foreign  musicians  or  teachers  of  languages,  but  in  other 
cases,  the  use  of  foreign  titles  may  be  an  outcome  of  a 
certain  unwillingness  to  recognize  foreigners  as  entitled 
to  the  same  standing  as  natives,  and  a  consequent  in- 
clination to  mark  them  off  as  un-English. 

157.  The  tendency  to  adopt  words  from  other  languages 
is  due,  then,  probably  to  a  variety  of  causes.  Foremost 
among  these  I  think  it  is  right  to  place  the  linguistic 
laziness  mentioned  in  §  130  and  fostered  especially  by 
the  preference  for  words  from  the  classical  languages. 
That  the  borrowing  is  not  occasioned  by  an  inherent 
deficiency  in  the  language  itself,  is  shown  by  the  ease 
with  which  new  terms  actually  are  framed  whenever  the 
need  of  them  is  really  felt,  especially  by  uneducated  people 
who  are  not  tempted  to  go  outside  their  own  language 
to  express  their  thoughts.  Interesting  examples  of  this 
natural  inventiveness  may  be  found  in  Mr.  Edward 
E.  Morris's  'Austral  English,  A  dictionary  of  Australasian 
words,  phrases  and  usages'.  As  Mr.  Morris  says  in  his 
preface,  'Those  who,  speaking  the  tongue  of  Shakespeare, 
of  Milton,  and  of  Dr.  Johnson,  came  to  various  parts  of 
Australasia,  found  a  Flora  and  a  Fauna  waiting  to  be 
named  in  English.  New  birds,  beasts  and  fishes,  new 
trees,  bushes  and  flowers,  had  to  receive  names  for 
general  use.  It  is  probably  not  too  much  to  say  that 
there  never  was  an  instance  in  history  when  so  many 
new  names  were  needed,  and  that  there  never  will  be 
such  an  occasion  again,  for  never  did  settlers  come,  nor 
can  they  ever  again  come,  upon  Flora  and  Fauna  so  com- 

Australia.  1 57 

pletely  different  from  anything  seen  by  them  before'. 
The  gaps  were  filled  partly  by  adopting  words  from  the 
aboriginal  languages,  e.  g.  kangaroo,  wombat,  partly  by 
applying  English  words  to  objects  bearing  a  real  or  fan- 
cied resemblance  to  the  objects  denoted  by  them  in  Eng- 
land, e.  g.  magpie,  oak,  beech,  but  partly  also  by  new  Eng- 
lish formations.  Accordingly,  in  turning  over  the  leaves 
of  Mr.  Morris's  Dictionary  we  come  across  numerous 
names  of  birds  like  friar-bird,  frogsmouth,  honey- eater, 
ground-lark,  forty-spot^,  of  fishes  like  long-fin,  trumpeter, 
of  plants  like  sugar-grass,  hedge-laurel,  ironheart,  thousand- 
jacket.  Most  of  these  show  that  the  settler  must  have 
had  an  imagination.  Whip-bird,  or  Coach-whip,  from 
the  sound  of  the  note,  Lyre-bird  from  the  appearance 
of  the  outspread  tail,  are  admirable  names.'  (Morris,  /.  c.) 
It  certainly  seems  a  pity  that  book-learned  people  when 
wanting  to  enrich  their  mother  tongue  have  not,  as  a  rule, 
drawn  from  the  same  source  or  shown  the  same  talent  for 
picturesque  and   'telling'    designations. 

158.  A  great  many  words  are  nowadays  coined  by 
tradespeople  to  designate  new  articles  of  merchandise. 
Very  little  regard  is  generally  paid  to  correctness  of 
formation,  the  only  essential  being  a  name  that  is  good 
for  advertizing  purposes.  Sometimes  a  mere  arbitrary 
collection  of  sounds  or  letters  is  chosen,  as  in  the  case  of 
kodak,  and  sometimes  the  inventor  contents  himself  with 
some  vague  resemblance  to  some  other  word,  which  may 

I  One  story  of  a  curious  change  of  meaning  must  be  re- 
counted in  Mr.  Morris's  words :  '  The  settler  heard  a  bird  laugh 
in  what  he  thought  an  extremely  ridiculous  manner ,  its  opening 
notes  suggesting  a  donkey's  bray  —  he  called  it  the  'laughing 
jackass'.  His  descendants  have  dropped  the  adjective,  and  it 
has  come  to  pass  that  the  word 'jackass'  denotes  to  an  Australian 
something  quite  different  from  its  meaning  to  other  speakers 
of  our  English  tongue'. 

J  eg  VII.  Various  Sources, 

assist  the  buyer  to  remember  the  name.  In  one  single 
number  of  one  of  the  illustrated  magazines  I  find  the 
following  trade  names.  I  add  the  probable  source  of  any 
name  for  which  I  have  been  able  to  imagine  one:  — 
Larola,  luxette  [luxe],  koko,  Diano  [makes  women  beauti- 
ful: Diana],  melodeon  [a  musical  instrument:  melody], 
bath-eucryl  [soap,  one  of  the  ingredients  is  ^M^-alyptus], 
oktis,  trilene  [tablets  to  cure  fat  people,  try.?  or  Latin  tri 
as  in  tricolour.?  +  lean],  vapo-cresolene  [cresolene  va- 
porized], harlene  [hair],  stenotyper  [sort  of  typewriter  for 
stenography],  antexema  [anti  +  eczema],  mene,  vive  [a 
photographic  camera,  cf.  vivid],  kals  [underclothing,  cf. 
calegon],  nonalton  [a  tonic,  which  may  be  indicated  by 
the  ending],  onomosto,  haydal,  wincarnis  [a  tonic:  wine, 
caro.?],  vinolia  [vinum,  oleum],  bovril  [bos,  vril,  an  electric 
fluid  in  Lytton's  novel  The  Coming  RaceY.  As  the  list 
dates  from  January  1900,  a  great  many  of  the  names  will 
probably  be  extinct  before  my  book  sees  the  light. 
Others  may  live  and  even  pass  into  common  use  outside 
the  sphere  for  which  they  were  originally  invented;  this 
is  the  case  with  kodak. 

159.  It  once  occurred  to  Mr.  Leon  Mead  to  ask  a  great 
number  of  the  best  known  American  authors  and  men 
of  science  what  words,  if  any,  they  had  ever  coined.  The 
answers  he  received  are  very  curious^.  A  great  many  of 
his  correspondents  distinctly  repudiated  the  idea  of  having 
ever  done  such  a  thing  as  coining  a  word,  some  explicitly 
declaring  that  they  looked  upon  the  coining  of  words 
as  a  crime  to  be  classed  with  the  coining  of  false  money, 
others  saying  simply  that  they  had  always  found  the 

1  Sometimes  these  trade  names  are  half-disguised  by  fancy 
spellings,  the  Phiteesi  boot,  Stickphast,  Unceda  cigar  [=  you 
need  a  cigar]  in  England,   Uneeda  biscuit  in  America. 

2  Leon  Mead,  IVord-Coiftage.  New  York,  Thomas  Y.  Cro- 
well  &  Co.  1902. 

Coined  Words.  I^g 

language  of  Shakespeare  —  or  some   other  great  author 
they  chose  to  mention  —  sufficient   to   express   all  their 
thoughts.     On  the  other  hand,  some  persons  seemed  to 
be  proud  of  their  coinages  and  sent  Mr.  Mead  lists  of  them 
or  regretted  not  being  able  to  remember  them.     When 
we  examine  these  coined  words,  we  find  that  by  far  the 
greater  number  of  them  are  framed  on  classical  lines,  for 
instance  lyronym,  metropoliarchy,  cynophiles,  feminology, 
societology,  monopolian,  hippopcean,  to  hermetize  oneself, 
and  deanthropomorphization;  I  leave  out  a  great  many  that 
seem  still  more  ugly  and  unnecessary.    Only  rarely  do  we 
come  across  some  word  formed  by  a  specifically  English 
process,  such  as  densen  ('As  the  spring  comes  on  and  the 
densening  outHnes  of  the  elm  give  daily  a  new  design  for 
a  Grecian  urn',  Th.  W.  Higginson),  viewpoint  and  watch- 
point  (Fawcett),   which  are,   however,   only  translations 
from  German.    Professor  Van  Dyke  says  that  there  was 
once  a  httle  river  that  could  not  be  described  by  any 
other  adjective  than  water f ally,  and  a  bird  whose  song 
seemed  to  him  wild-flowery.     The  proof-reader  objected 
to  both  of  these  words,  but  Dr.  Van  Dyke  withstood  him. 
This  latter  remark  is  highly  characteristic  of  the  attitude 
taken  by  most  professional  champions  of  correctness  of 
language  towards  anything  a  little  out  of  the  common, 
I  however  justifiable  the  innovation  may  be.     Very  few 
i!  people  have  the  courage  to  say,  as  Mr.  Edgar  Fawcett  says 
j  (p.  82):  'I  think  every  writer  ought  to  have  on  his  con- 
1  science  the  coining  of  at  least  five  good  [monosyllables] 
j  each  year.'    It  may  be  doubted  indeed  if  the  result  would 
always  be  'good'  words,  if  authors  sat  down  consciously 
to  fulfil  the  duty  here  prescribed  to  them,  for  the  secret 
of  the  thing  is  that  most  new  words  which  have  come 
to  be  approved  were  framed  without  their  originators 
being   aware   at   the    moment   that   they   were   creating 
anything.    There  is  an  interesting  passage  on  p.  80  of  the 

j5o  ^^^«  Various  Sources. 

book  mentioned:  'He  [A.  T.  Mahan]  used  once  by  chance  > 
the  word  eventless  —  'dull,  weary,  eventless  month'. 
The  word  slipped  without  premeditation  off  his  pen. 
He  immediately  thought  it  without  authority  and  found 
it  not  in  Worcester.  Nevertheless  he  stuck  to  it'  as 
briefer,  stronger  and  much  more  significant  than  the 
'stupid'  uneventful.  Now,  if  people  better  realized  the 
necessary  shortcomings  and  deficiencies  of  dictionaries, 
they  would  not  go  to  them  as  authorities  with  regard 
to  such  questions^.  A  word  may  have  been  used 
scores  of  times  without  finding  its  way  into  any 
dictionary,  —  and  a  word  may  be  an  excellent  one  even 
if  it  has  never  been  used  before  by  any  human  being. 
If  at  its  first  appearance  it  is  just  as  intelligible  as 
if  it  had  been  in  constant  use  for  centuries,  why 
should  the  first  occurrence  be  more  faulty  than  the 

160.  As  already  hinted,  the  chief  enrichment  of  the 
language  has  taken  place  through  those  regular  processes, 
which  are  so  familiar  that  any  new  word  formed  by| 
means  of  them  seems  at  once  an  old  acquaintance.  Thai 
whole  history  of  English  word-formation  may  be  summed 
up  thus  —  that  some  formative  adjuncts  have  been 
gradually  discarded,  especially  those  that  presented  some 
difficulty  of  application,  while  others  have  been  continu- 
ally gaining  ground,  because  they  have  admitted  of  being 
added  to  all  or  nearly  all  words  without  occasioning  any 
change  in  the  kernel  of  the  word.  Among  the  former  I 
shall  mention  -en  to  denote  female  beings  (cf.  German  -in). 
In  Old  English  this  had  already  become  very  impractic- 
able   because    sound    changes   had   occurred   which  ob- 

I  As  a  matter  of  fact,  Bradley  in  the  N.E.D.  quotes  Mad. 
DArblay(i8is),  Morris  (1868),  Stanley  (1878)  and  Sherer  (1880) 
for  eventless,  Post  (1888)  for  eventlessly  y  and  Howells  (1872)  for 


Word -Formation.  l6r 

scured  the  connection  between  related  words.  Correspond- 
ing to  the  masculine  j)^gn  'retainer',  jj^ow  'slave',  wealh 
'foreigner',  scealc  'servant',  fox,  we  find  the  feminine 
Jngnen,  ])iewen,  wielen,  scielcen,  fyxen.  It  seems  clear  that 
new  generations  would  find  some  difficulties  in  forming 
new  feminines  on  such  indistinct  analogies,  so  we 
cannot  wonder  that  the  ending  ceased  to  be  pro- 
ductive. Of  the  words  mentioned,  fyxen  is  the  only 
one  surviving,  and  every  trace  of  its  connexion  with 
fox  is  now  lost,  both  the  form  vixen  (with  its  v  from 
Southern  dialects)  and  the  meaning  being  now  too  far 
from  the  origin. 

161.  A  much  more  brilliant  destiny  was  reserved  for 
the  Old  English  ending  -isc.  At  first  it  was  added  only 
to  nouns  indicating  nations,  whose  vowel  it  changed  by 
mutation;  thus  Englisc,  now  English,  from  Angle,  etc. 
In  some  adjectives,  however,  no  mutation  was  possible, 
e.  g.  Irish,  and  by  analogy  the  vowel  of  the  primitive 
word  was  soon  introduced  into  some  of  the  adjectives, 
e.  g.  Scottish  (earlier  Scyttisc),  Danish  (earlier  Denisc). 
The  ending  was  extended  first  to  words  whose  meaning 
was  cognate  to  these  national  names,  heathenish,  O.E. 
folcisc  or  peodisc  'national'  (from  folc  or  peod  'people') ; 
then  gradually  came  childish,  churlish,  etc.  Each  century 
idded  new  extensions,  foolish  and  feverish,  for  instance, 
dating  from  the  fourteenth,  and  boyish  and  girlish  from 
^he  sixteenth  century,  until  now  -ish  can  be  added 
:o  nearly  any  noun  and  adjective  (swinish,  bookish, 
greenish,  biggish,  etc.),  nay  even  to  whole  phrases, 
'^mong  recent  nonce  -  formations  recorded  in  the 
M.E.D.  may  be  mentioned  'an  I  -  dont  -  know  -  howish- 
less',  'a  clean  -  cravatish  formahty  of  manners',  'Miss 

162.  We  shall  see  in  a  later  section  (§  200)  that  the 
ending  -ing  has  still  more  noticeably  broken  the  bounds 

Jespbrsen:  English.    2ud  ed.  II 

J  52  ^11-  Various  Sources. 

of  its  originally  narrow  sphere  of  application.  Another 
case  in  point  is  the  verbal  suffix  -en.  It  is  now  possible  to 
form  a  verb  from  any  adjective  fulfilling  certain  phonetic 
conditions  by  adding  -en  (harden,  weaken,  sweeten, 
sharpen,  lessen).  But  this  suffix  was  not  used  very  much 
before  1500,  indeed  most  of  the  verbs  formed  in  -en 
belong  to  the  last  three  centuries.  Another  extensively 
used  ending  is  -er.  Old  English  had  various  methods  of 
forming  nouns  to  denote  agents;  from  the  verb  huntan 
'hunt'  it  had  the  noun  himta  'hunter';  from  beodan  'an- 
nounce', boda  'messenger,  herald';  from  wealdan  'rule', 
wealda;  from  beran  'bear',  bora;  from  sce])}an  'injure'^ 
scea}a;  from  weorcan  'work',  wyrhta  'wright'  (in  wheel- 
wright, etc.),  though  some  of  these  were  used  in  com- 
pounds only;  some  nouns  were  formed  in  -end:  rcedenc 
'ruler',  scieppend  'creator',  and  others  in  -ere:  blawen 
'one  who  blows',  blotere  'sacrificer',  etc.  But  it  seems  aj 
if  there  were  many  verbs  from  which  it  was  impossibh 
to  form  any  agent-noun  at  all,  and  the  reader  will  hav( 
noticed  that  even  the  formation  in  a  presented  somt 
difficulties,  as  the  vowel  was  modified  according  to  com 
plicated  rules.  When  the  want  of  new  nouns  was  felt 
it  was,  therefore,  more  and  more  the  ending  -ere  that  wa: 
resorted  to.  But  the  curious  thing  is  that  the  functioi 
of  this  ending  was  at  first  to  make  nouns,  not  from  verbs 
but  from  other  nouns,  thus  O.E.  bocere  'scribe'  from  bo^ 
'book',  compare  modern  hatter,  tinner,  Londoner,  Nei 
Englander,  first-nighter.  As,  however,  such  a  word  a; 
fisher,  O.E.  fiscere,  which  is  derived  from  the  noun  a  fish 
O.E.  fisc,  might  just  as  well  be  analyzed  as  derived  fron 
the  corresponding  verb  to  fish,  O.E.  fiscian,  it  became 
usual  to  form  new  agent-denoting  nouns  in  -er  from  verbs 
and  in  some  cases  these  supplanted  older  formation 
(O.E.  hunta,  now  hunter).  Now  we  do  not  hesitate  t( 
make  new  words  in  er  from  any  verb,  e.  g.  a  snorer,  ; 

Suffixes.  163 

fitter,  a  telephoner,  a  total  abstainer,  etc.  Combinations 
with  an  adverb  (a  diner-out,  a  looker-on)  go  back  to 
Chaucer  (A  somnour  is  a  renner  up  and  down  With 
inandements  for  fornicacioun,  D  1284),  but  do  not  seem 
to  be  very  frequent  before  the  Ehzabethan  period.  Note 
also  the  extensive  use  of  the  suffix  to  denote  instruments 
and  things,  as  in  slipper,  rubber,  typewriter,  sleeper 
[American  =  sleeping  car).  Other  much-used  suffixes 
cor  nouns  are :  -ness  (goodness,  truthfulness),  -dom 
Christendom,  boredom,  'Swelldom',  Thackeray),  -ship 
ownership,  companionship,  horsemanship),  for  adjec- 
:ives:  -ly  (lordly,  cowardly),  -y  (fiery,  churchy,  creepy), 
less  (powerless,  dauntless),  - ful  (powerful,  fanciful), 
ind  -  ed  (blue-eyed ,  goodnatured ,  renowned  ,  conceited, 
alented;  'broad  -  breasted;  level  -  browed  ,  hke  the 
Horizon; — thighed  and  shouldered  Hke  the  billows; 
—footed  hke  their  steahng  foam',  Ruskin).  Prefixes 
i)f  wide  apphcation  are  mis-,  un-,  be-,  and  others. 
By  means  of  these  formatives  the  Enghsh  vocab- 
jlary  has  been  and  is  being  constantly  enriched 
jvith  thousands  and  thousands  of  useful  new 

163.  There  is  one  manner  of  forming  verbs  from  nouns 
md  vice  versa  which  is  specifically  English  and  which  is 
)f  the  greatest  value  on  account  of  the  ease  with  which 
t  is  managed,  namely  that  of  making  them  exactly  like 
one  another.  In  Old  English  there  were  a  certain  number 
l)f  verbs  and  nouns  of  the  same  'root',  but  distinguished 
3y  the  endings.  Thus  'I  love'  through  the  three  persons 
lingular  ran  lufie  lufast  lufa},  plural  lufiap;  the  infinitive 
iwas  lufian,  the  subjunctive  lufie,  pi.  lufien,  and  the  im- 
iaerative  was  lufa,  pi.  lufia}.  The  noun  'love'  on  the  other 
laand  was  lufu,  in  the  other  cases  lufe,  plural  lufa  or  lufe, 
iufum,  lufena  or  lufa.  Similarly  'to  sleep'  was  slcepan, 
pres.  slcepe  slcspest  sleep (e)},   slcBpaJi,   subjunctive  slcEpe, 

II  * 


VII.  Various  Sources. 

slcBpen,  imperative  sleep,  slcepaj),  while  the  noun  had  the' 
forms  sleep,  slcepe,  and  slcepes  in  the  singular,  and  slcepas, 
slcepum,  slcepa  in  the  plural.    If  we  were  to  give  the  cor- 
responding forms  used  in  the  subsequent  centuries,  we 
should  witness  a  gradual  simplification  which  had  as  a 
further  consequence  the   mutual  approximation  of  the 
verbal  and  nominal  forms.     The  -m  is  changed  into  -n, 
all  the  vowels  of  the  weak  syllables  are  levelled  to  one 
uniform  e,  the  plural  forms  of  the  verbs  in  -j)  give  way  to 
forms  in  -n,  and  all  the  final  n's  eventually  disappear, 
while  in  the  nouns  s  is  gradually  extended  so  that  it  be-- 
comes  the  only  genitive  and  almost  the  only  plural  end- 
ing.    The  second   person  singular  of  the  verbs  retains  its 
distinctive  -st,  but  towards  the  end  of  the  Middle  English 
period  thou  already  begins  to  be  less  used,  and  the  polite 
ye,  you,  which  becomes  more  and  more  universal,  claims' 
no  distinctive  ending  in  the  verb.     In  the  fifteenth  cen- 
tury, the  e  of  the  endings  which  had  hitherto  been  pro-; 
nounced,   ceased  to  be  sounded,   and  somewhat  later 
became  the  ordinary  ending  of  the  third  person  singulai  ] 
instead  of  th.    These  changes  brought  about  the  moderr 

scheme:  —  j 

noun:  love  loves  —  sleep  sleeps,  ! 

verb:  love  loves  —  sleep  sleeps,  \ 

where  we  have  perfect  identity  of  the  two  parts  of  speech  i 
only  with  the  curious  cross-relation  between  them  that  .'  \ 
is   the   ending   of   the   plural  in  the  nouns   and   of  the 
singular    (third    person)     in     the    verbs  —  an     accident 
which   might  almost  be  taken  as   a  device  for  getting 
an   s  into   all  indicative  sentences    containing   no    pro 
noun  (the  lover  love5;  the  lovers  love)  and  for  showing 
by   the    place    of   the   5   which   of  the   two   numbers   v. 

164.  As  a  great   many  native  nouns  and  verbs  hat 
thus  come  to  be  identical  in  form  (e.  g.  blossom,  care 

Nouns  and  Verbs.  1 65 

deal,  drink,  ebb,  end,  fathom,  fight,  fish,  fire),  and  as  the 
same  thing  happened  with  numerous  originally  French 
words  (e.  g.  accord,'  O.Fr.  acord  and  acorder,  account, 
prm,  blame,  cause,  change,  charge,  charm,  claim,  combat, 
comfort,  copy,  cost,  couch),  it  was  quite  natural  that  the 
speech-instinct  should  take  it  as  a  matter  of  course  that 
whenever  the  need  of  a  verb  arose,  the  corresponding 
noun  might  be  used  unchanged,  and  vice  versa.  Among 
the  innumerable  nouns  from  which  verbs  have  been 
formed  in  this  manner,  we  may  mention  a  few:  ape,  awe, 
cook,  husband,  silence,  time,  worship.  Nearly  every  word 
for  the  different  parts  of  the  body  has  given  rise  to  a 
tiomonym  verb,  though  it  is  true  that  some  of  them  are 
rarely  used:  eye,  nose  (you  shall  nose  him  as  you  go  up 
the  staires,  Hamlet),  lip  (=  kiss,  Shakesp.),  beard,  tongue, 
brain  (such  stuffe  as  madmen  tongue  and  braine  not; 
Shakesp.  Cymbeline),  jaw  {=  scold,  etc.),  ear  (rare,  = 
live  ear  to),  chin  (American  =  to  chatter),  arm  {=  put 
one's  arm  round),  shoulder  (arms),  elbow  (one's  way 
through  the  crowd),  hand,  fist  (fisting  each  others  throat, 
Shakesp.),  finger,  thumb,  breast  {=  oppose),  body  (forth), 
ikin,  stomach,  limb  (they  limb  themselves,  Milton),  knee 
'=  kneel,  Shakesp.),  foot.  It  would  be  possible  in  a  similar 
ivay  to  go  through  a  great  many  other  categories  of 
KTords;  everywhere  we  should  see  the  same  facility  of 
"orming  new  verbs  from  nouns. 

165.  The  process  is  also  very  often  resorted  to  for 
nonce-words'  in  speaking  and  in  writing.  Thus,  a  com- 
non  form  of  retort  is  exemplified  by  the  following  quo- 
;ations :  Trinkets !  a  bauble  for  Lydia !  ...  So  this  was 
he  history  of  his  trinkets!  I'll  bauble  him!'  (Sheridan, 
Rivals  V.  2).  'I  was  explaining  the  Golden  Bull  to  his 
Royal  Highness.'  T'll  Golden  Bull  you,  you  rascal!' 
roared  the  Majesty  of  Russia  (Macaulay,  Biographical 
lEss.).     'Such  a  savage  as  that,  as  has  just  come  home 

1 56  VII.  Various  Sources. 

from  South  Africa.  Diamonds  indeed  !  I'd  diamond  hini' 
(Trollope,  Old  Man's  Love) — and  in  a  somewhat  different 
manner:  'My  gracious  Uncle. — Tut,  tut,  Grace  me  no 
Grace,  nor  Uncle  me  no  Uncle'  (Shakesp.,  R  2,  cf.  also 
Romeo  III.  5.  143).  'I  heartily  wish  I  could,  but — ' 
'Nay,  but  me  no  buts  —  I  have  set  my  heart  upon  it' 
(Scott,  Antiq.  ch.  XI).  'Advance  and  take  thy  prize, 
The  diamond;  but  he  answered.  Diamond  me  No  dia- 
monds !  For  God'i  love,  a  little  air !  Prize  me  no  prizes, 
for  my  prize  is  death'  (Tennyson,  Lancelot  and  Elaine). 
166.  A  still  more  characteristic  peculiarity  of  the 
English  language  is  the  corresponding  freedom  with  which 
a  form  which  was  originally  a  verb  is  used  unchanged 
as  a  noun.  This  was  not  possible  till  the  disappearance 
of  the  fxnal  -e  which  was  found  in  most  verbal  forms, 
and  accordingly  we  see  an  ever  increasing  number  of 
these  formations  from  about  1500.  I  shall  give  some 
examples  in  chronological  order,  adding  the  date  of  the 
earliest  quotation  for  the  noun  in  the  N.E.D.:  glance 
1503,  bend  1529,  cut  1530,  fetch  1530,  hearsay  1532, 
blemish  1535,  gaze  1542,  reach  1542,  drain  1552,  gathei 
1555,  burn  1563,  lend  1575,  dislike  1577,  frown  1581, 
dissent  1585,  fawn  (a  servile  cringe)  1590,  dismay  1 590, 
embrace  1592,  hatch  1597,  dip  1599,  dress  (persona! 
attire)  1606,  flutter  1641,  divide  1642,  build  1667  (but 
before  the  nineteenth  century  apparently  used  by  Pepyj 
only),  harass  1667,  haul  1670,  dive  1700,  go  1727  (many  ol 
the  most  frequent  applications  date  from  the  nineteentl 
century),  hobble  1727,  lean  (the  act  or  condition  ol 
leaning)  1776,  bid  1788,  hang  1797,  dig  1819,  find  182J 
(in  the  sense  of  that  which  is  found,  1847),  crave  1830 
kill  (the  act  of  killing)  1852,  (a  killed  animal)  1878.  I' 
will  be  seen  that  the  sixteenth  century  is  very  fertih 
in  these  nouns,  which  is  only  a  natural  consequence  0: 
the  phonological  reason  given  above.    As,  however,  som( 


Verbs  and  Nouns. 


of  the  verb-nouns  found  in  Elizabethan  authors  have  in 
modern  times  disappeared  or  become  rare,  some  gram- 
marians have  inferred  that  we  have  here  a  phenomenon 
pecuHar  to  that  period  and  due  to  the  general  exuberance 
of  the  Renaissance  which  made  people  more  free  with 

;  their  language  than  they  have  since  been.  A  glance  at 
our  list  will  show  that  this  is  a  wrong  view;  indeed,  we 

:  use  a  great  many  formations  of  this  kind  which  were 
unknown  to  Shakespeare;  he  had  only  the  noun  a  visit- 
ation, where  we  say  a  visit,  nor  did  he  know  our  worries, 
our  kicks,  and  moves,  etc.,  etc. 

167.  In  some  cases  a  noun  is  formed  in  this  manner 
in  spite  of  there  being  already  another  noun  derived  from 

:  the  same  verb ;  thus  a  move  has  nearly  the  same  meaning 
as  removal,  movement  or  motion  (from  which  latter  a  new 
verb  to  motion  is  formed) ;  a  resolve  and  resolution,  a  laugh 
and  laughter  are  nearly  the  same  thing  (though  an  exhibit 
is  only  one  of  the  things  found  at  an  exhibition).   Hence  we 

!  get  a  lively  competition  started  between  these  nouns  and 
the  nouns  in  -ing:  w^^^  (especially  in  the  sporting  world) 
and  meeting,  shoot  and  shooting,  read  (in  the  afternoon 
I  like  a  rest  and  a  read)  and  reading^,  row  (let  us  go 
out  for  a  row)  and  rowing  (he  goes  in  for  rowing),  smoke 
and  smoking,  mend  and  mending,  feel  (there  was  a  soft 
feel  of  autumn  in  the  air.  Hall  Caine)  and  feeling.  The 
build  of  a  house  and  the  make  of  a  machine  are  different 
from  the  building  of  the  house  and  the  making  of  the 
machine.  The  sit  of  a  coat  may  sometimes  be  spoilt  at 
one  sitting,  and  we  speak  of  dressing,  not  of  dress,  in 
connexion  with  a  salad,  etc.   The  enormous  development 

I  Darwin  says  in  one  of  his  letters:  'I  have  just  finished, 
after  several  reads,  your  paper';  this  implies  that  he  did  not 
read  it  from  beginning  to  end  at  one  sitting ;  if  he  had  written 
'after  several  readings'  he  would  have  implied  that  he  had 
read  it  through  several  times.     . 

1 58  VII.  Various  Sources. 

of  these  convenient  differentiations  belongs  to  the  most 
recent  period  of  the  language.  Compared  with  the  sets 
of  synonyms  mentioned  above  (§  133:  one  of  the  words 
borrowed  from  Latin,  etc.)  this  class  of  synonyms  shows 
a  decided  superiority,  because  here  small  differences  in 
sense  are  expressed  by  small  differences  in  sound,  and 
because  all  these  words  are  formed  in  the  most  regular 
and  easy  manner;  consequently  there  is  the  least  possible 
strain  put  on  the  memory. 

168.  In  early  English  a  noun  and  the  verb  correspond- 
ing to  it]  were  often  similar,  although  not  exactly  alike, 
some  historical  reason  causing  a  difference  in  either  the 
vowel  or  the  final  consonant  or  both.  In  such  pairs  of 
words  as  the  following  the  old  relation  is  kept  unchanged : 
a  life,  to  live]  a  calf,  to  calve \  a  grief,  to  grieve-,  a  cloth, 
to  clothe',  a  house,  to  house;  a  use,  to  use  — in  all  these 
the  noun  has  the  voiceless  and  the  verb  the  voiced  con- 
sonant. The  same  alternation  has  been  imitated  in  a 
few  words  which  had  originally  the  same  consonant  in 
the  noun  as  in  the  verb;  thus  belief,  proof,  and  excuse 
(with  voiceless  s)  have  supplanted  the  older  nouns  in 
-ve  and  voiced  -se,  and  inversely  the  verb  grease  has  now 
voiced  5  [z]  where  it  had  formerly  a  voiceless  s.  But  in 
a  far  greater  number  of  words  the  tendency  to  have 
nouns  and  verbs  of  exactly  the  same  sound  has  prevailed, 
so  that  we  have  to  knife,  to  scarf  (Shakesp.),  to  elf 
(id.),  to  roof,  and  with  voiceless  s  to  loose,  to  race,  to  ice, 
to  promise,  while  the  nouns  repose,  cruise  (at  sea),  re- 
prieve, owe  their  voiced  consonants  to  the  corresponding 
verbs.  In  this  way  we  get  some  interesting  doublets. 
Besides  the  old  noun  bath  and  verb  bathe  we  have  the 
recent  verb  to  bath  (will  you  bath  baby  to-day.?)  and 
the  noun  bathe  (I  walked  into  the  sea  by  myself  and 
had  a  very  decent  bathe,  Tennyson).  Besides  glass 
(noun)    and   glaze   (verb)    we   have   now   also  glass  as  a 

Consonants  different.  1 69 

verb  and  glaze  as  a  noun;  so  also  in  the  case  of  grass 
and  graze,  price  and  prize  (where  praise  verb  and 
noun  should  be  mentioned  as  etymologically  the  same 

169.  The  same  forces  are  at  work  in  the  smaller  class 
of  words,  in  which  the  distinction  between  the  noun 
and  the  verb  is  made  by  the  alternation  of  ch  and  k,  as 
in  speech  —  speak.  Side  by  side  with  the  old  hatch  we 
have  a  new  noun  a  bake,  besides  the  noun  stitch  and  the 
verb  stick  we  have  now  also  a  verb  to  stitch  (a  book,  etc.) 
and  the  rare  noun  a  stick  (the  act  of  sticking);  besides 
the  old  noun  stench  we  have  a  new  one  from  the  verb 
stink.  The  modern  word  ache  (in  toothache,  etc.)  is  a 
curious  cross  of  the  old  noun,  whose  spelling  has  been 
kept,  and  the  old  verb,  whose  pronunciation  (with  k) 
has  prevailed.  Baret  (1573)  says  expressly,  'Ake  is  the 
verb  of  this  substantive  ache,  ch  being  turned  into  k' . 
In  the  Shakespeare  foho  of  1623  the  noun  is  always  spelt 
with  ch  and  the  verb  with  k;  the  verb  rimes  with  brake 
and  sake.  The  noun  was  thus  sounded  like  the  name  of 
the  letter  h;  and  Hart  (An  Orthographic,  1569,  p.  35) 
says  expressly,  'We  abuse  the  name  of  h,  calling  it  ache, 
which  sounde  serveth  very  well  to  expresse  a  headache, 
or  some  bone  ache.'  Indeed,  the  identity  in  sound  of 
the  noun  and  the  name  of  the  letter  gave  rise  to  one  of 
the  stock  puns  of  the  time;  see  for  instance  Shakespeare 
(Ado  III.  4.  56):  'by  my  troth  I  am  exceeding  ill,  hey 
ho.  —  For  a  hauke,  a  horse,  or  a  husband.?  —  For  the 
letter  that  begins  them  all,  H,'  and  a  poem  by  Heywood: 
'It  is  worst  among  letters  in  the  crosse  row.  For  if  thou 
finde  him  other  [=  either]  in  thine  elbow.  In  thine  arme, 

or  leg Where  ever  you  find  ache,  thou  shalt  not 

like  him.' 

170.  Numerous  nouns  and  verbs  have  the  same  con- 
sonants, but  a  difference  in  the  vowels,   due  either  to 


VII.  Various  Sources. 

gradation  or  mutation.  But  here,  too,  the  creative 
powers  of  language  may  be  observed.  Where  in  old 
times  there  was  only  a  noun  bit  and  a  verb  to  bite,  we 
have  now  in  addition  not  only  a  verb  to  bit  (a  horse,  to 
put  the  bit  into  its  mouth)  as  in  Carlyle's  'the  accursed 
hag  'dyspepsia'  had  got  me  bitted  and  bridled'  and  in 
Coleridge's  witty  remark  (quoted  in  the  N.E.D.):  'It  is 
not  women  and  Frenchmen  only  that  would  rather  have 
their  tongues  bitten  than  bitted',  —  but  also  a  noun 
bite  in  various  meanings,  e.  g.  in  'his  bite  is  as  dangerous 
as  the  cobra's'  (Kipling)  and  'she  took  a  bite  out  of  the 
apple'  (Ant.  Hope).  From  the  noun  seat  (see  above, 
§  72)  we  have  the  new  verb  to  seat  (to  place  on  a  seat), 
while  the  verb  to  sit  has  given  birth  to  the  noun  sit 
(cf.  §  167).  No  longer  content  with  the  old  sale  as  the 
noun  corresponding  to  sell,  in  slang  we  have  the  new 
noun  a  (fearful)  sell  (an  imposition);  cf.  also  the  Ameri- 
can substantive  tell  (according  to  their  tell,  see  Farmer 
and  Henley).  As  knot  (n.)  was  to  knit  (v.),  so  was  coss 
to  kiss,  but  while  of  the  former  pair  both  forms  have 
survived  and  have  given  rise  to  a  new  verb  to  knot  and 
a  new  noun  a  knit  (he  has  a  permanent  knit  of  the  brow, 
N.E.D.),  from  the  latter  the  ^-form  has  disappeared,  the 
noun  being  now  formed  from  the  verb:  a  kiss.  We  have 
the  old  brood  (n.)  and  breed  (v.),  and  the  new  brood  (v.) 
and  breed  (n.);  a  new  verb  to  blood  exists  by  the  side 
of  the  old  to  bleed,  and  a  new  noun  feed  by  the  side  of 
the  old  food.  It  is  obvious  that  the  language  has  been 
enriched  by  acquiring  all  these  newly  formed  words; 
but  it  should  also  be  admitted  that  there  has  been  a 
positive  gain  in  ease  and  simplicity  in  all  those  cases 
where  there  was  no  occasion  for  turning  the  existing 
phonetic  difference  to  account  by  creating  new  verbs  or 
nouns  in  new  significations,  and  where,  accordingly,  one 
of  the  phonetic  forms  has  simply  disappeared,  as  when 

Vowels  different  17  I 

the  old  verbs  sniwan,  scry  dan,  swierman  have  given  way 
to  the  new  snow,  shroud,  swarm,  which  are  like  the 
nouns,  or  when  the  noun  swat,  swot  (he  swette  blodes 
swot,  Ancrene  Riwle)  has  been  discarded  in  favour 
of  sweat,  which  has  the  san^e  vowel  as  the  verb.  So 
far  from  the  older  school  of  philologists  being  right 
when  they  maintained  that  the  formal  distinction  be- 
tween verbs  and  nouns  was  characteristic  of  the  highest 
stage  of  linguistic  development,^  we  see  that  the 
steadily  continued  approximation  of  the  two  classes  of 
words  has  been  in  English  a  great  aid  to  linguistic 

171.  Among  the  other  points  of  interest  presented  by 
the  formations  occupying  us  here^  I  may  mention  the 
curious  oscillation  found  in  some  instances  between  noun 
and  verb.  Smoke  is  first  a  noun  (the  smoke  from  the 
chimney),  then  a  verb  (the  chimney  smokes,  he  smokes 
a  pipe);  then  a  new  noun  is  formed  from  the  verb  in  the 
last  sense  (let  us  have  a  smoke).  Similarly  gossip  (a)  noun: 
godfather,  intimate  friend,  idle  talker,  (b)  verb:  to  talk 
idly,  (c)  new  noun:  idle  talk;  dart  (a)  a  weapon,  (b)  to 
throw  (a  dart),  to  move  rapidly  (Hke  a  dart),  (c)  a  sudden 
motion;  brush  (a)  an  instrument,  (b)  to  use  that  instru- 
ment, (c)  the  action  of  using  it:  your  hat  wants  a  brush; 
sail  (a)  a  piece  of  canvas,  (b)  to  sail,  (c)  a  sailing  excursion ; 
wire  (a)  a  metallic  thread,  (b)  to  telegraph,  (c)  a  tele- 
gram; so  also  cable;  in  vulgar  language  a  verb  is  formed 
to  jaw  and  from  that  a  second  noun  a  jaw  ('what  speech 
do  you  mean?'  'Why  that  grand  jaw  that  you  sputtered 
forth  just  now  about  reputation,'  F.  C.  Philips).  Some- 
times   the   starting   point    is    a  verb,    e.  g.  frame  (a)   to 

1  See    especially  Aug.  Schleicher,    Die   unterscheidung  von 
nomen  und  vefbum,  1865. 

2  On  the  accent  in  conduct,  to  conduct;  an  object,  to  object, 
etc.  see  my  Mod.  Engl.  Grammar,  ch.  V. 

jy2  ^I'-  Various  Sources, 

form,  (b)  noun:  a  fabric,  a  border  for  a  picture,  etc., 
(c)  verb:  to  set  in  a  frame;  and  sometimes  an  ad- 
jective, e.  g,  faint  (a)  weak,  (b)  to  become  weak,  (c)  a 
fainting  fit. 

172.  To  those  who  might  see  in  the  obhteration  of 
the  old  distinctive  marks  of  the  different  parts  of  speech 
a  danger  of  ambiguity,  I  would  answer  that  this  danger 
is  more  imaginary  than  real.  I  open  at  random  a  modern 
novel  (The  Christian,  by  Hall  Caine)  and  count  on  one 
page  (173)  34  nouns  which  can  be  used  as  infinitives 
without  any  change,  and  38  verbs  the  infinitives  of  which 
are  used  unchanged  as  nouns\  while  only  22  nouns  and 
9  verbs  cannot  be  thus  used.  As  some  of  the  ambiguous 
nouns  and  verbs  occur  more  than  once,  and  as  the  same 
page  contains  adverbs,  prepositions,  and  conjunctions^ 
which  can  be  used  as  nouns  (adjectives)  or  verbs,  or 
both,  the  theoretical  possibiHties  of  mistakes  arising  from 
confusion  of  parts  of  speech  would  seem  to  be  very 
numerous.  And  yet  no  one  reading  that  page  would 
feel  the  slightest  hesitation  about  understanding  every 
word  correctly,  as  either  the  ending  or  the  context  shows 
at  once  whether  a  verb  is  meant  or  not.  Even  such  an 
extreme  case  as  this  line,  which  is  actually  found  in  a 
modern  song,  'Her  eyes  like  angels  watch  them  still'  is 
not  obscure,  although  her  might  be  both  accusative  and 
possessive,  eyes  both  noun  and  verb,  like  adjective,  con- 

1  Answer,  brother,  reply,  father,  room,  key,  haste,  gate, 
time,  head,  pavement,  man,  waste,  truth,  thunder,  clap,  storey, 
bed ,  book  ,  night ,  face ,  point ,  shame ,  while ,  eye ,  top ,  hook, 
finger,  bell,  land,  lamp,  taper,  shelf,  church,  —  whisper,  wait, 
return,  go,  keep,  call,  look,  leave,  reproach,  do,  pass,  come, 
cry,  open,  sing,  fall,  hurry,  reach,  snatch,  He,  regard,  creep, 
lend,  say,  try,  steal,  hold,  swell,  wonder,  interest,  see,  choke, 
shake,  place,  escape,  ring,  take,  light,  (I  have  not  counted 
auxiliary  verbs.) 

2  Back,  down,  still,  out,  home,  except,  like,  while,  straight. 

Parts  of  Speech.  iy3 

junction,  and  verb,  watch  noun  and  verb,  and  still  adjec-    q-,     _ 
tive  and  adverb.     A  modern  Englishman,  realizing  the 
great  advantage  his  language  possesses  in  its  power  of 
making  words  serve  in  new  functions,  might  make  Shake- 
speare's lines  his  own  in  a  different  sense: 

*So  all  my  best  is  dressing  old  words  new, 
Spending  againe  what  is  already  spent ^' 

173.  Having  thus  considered  the  modes  of  forming 
new  words  by  adding  something  to  existing  words  and 
by  adding  to  them  nothing  at  all,  we  shall  end  this 
chapter  by  some  remarks  on  the  formation  of  new  words 
by  subtracting  something  from  old  ones.^  Such  'back- 
formations',  as  they  are  very  conveniently  termed  by  Dr. 
Murray,  owe  their  origin  to  one  part  of  a  word  being 
mistaken  for  some  derivative  suffix  (or,  more  rarely, 
prefix).  The  adverbs  sideling,  groveling  and  darkling 
were  originally  formed  by  means  of  the  adverbial  ending 
-ling,  but  in  such  phrases  as  he  walks  sideling,  he  lies 
groveling,  etc.,  they  looked  exactly  like  participles  in 
-ing,  and  the  consequence  was  that  the  new  verbs  to 
sidle,  to  grovel,  and  to  darkle  were  derived  from  them 
by  the  subtraction  of  -ing.  The  Banting  cure  was  named 
after  one  Mr.  Banting;  the  occasional  verb  to  hant  is, 
accordingly,  a  back-formation.  The  ending  -y  is  often 
subtracted;  from  greedy  is  thus  formed  the  noun  greed 
(about  1600),  from  lazy  and  cosy  the  two  verbs  laze  and 
cose  (Kingsley),  and  from  jeopardy  (French  jeu  parti)  the 
verb  jeopard.  The  old  adjective  corresponding  to  diffi- 
culty was  difficile  as  in  French,  but  about  1600  the  adjec- 
tive difficult  (=  the  noun  minus  y)  makes  its  appearance. 

1  Sonnet  76. 

2  Otto  Jespersen,  Om  subtraktionsdannelser,  saerligt  pa  dansk 
eg  engelsk,  in  Festskrift  til  Vilh.  Thomsen.  Copenhagen  1894. 
On  the  subtraction  oi  s ,  as  if  it  were  a  plural  sign,  see  below, 
5  188. 

jjA  VII.  Various  Sources. 

Puppy  from  French  poupee  was  thought  to  be  formed  by 
means  of  the  petting  suffix  y,  and  thus  pup  was  created; 
similarly  cad  may  be  from  caddy,  caddie  =  Fr.  cadet  (a 
youngster)  and  pet  from  petty  =  Fr.  petit,  the  transition 
in  meaning  from  'little'  to  'favourite'  being  easily  account- 
ed for.  Several  verbs  originate  from  nouns  in  -er  (-ar, 
-or)^  which  were  not  originally  'agent  nouns';  butcher  is 
the  French  boucher,  derived  from  bouc  'a  buck,  goat'  with 
no  corresponding  verb,  but  in  English  it  has  given  rise 
to  the  rare  verb  to  butch  and  to  the  noun  a  butch-knife. 
Similarly  harbinger,  rover,  pedlar,  burglar,  hawker,  and 
probably  beggar,  call  into  existence  the  verbs  to  harbinge 
(Whitman),  rove,  peddle,  burgle,  hawk,  and  beg\  and  the 
Latin  words  editor,  donator,  vivisector,  produce  the  un-Latin 
verbs  to  edit,  donate  (American),  vivisect  (Meredith),  etc. 
which  look  as  if  they  came  from  Latin  participles.^ 
Some  of  these  back-formations  have  been  more  success- 
ful than  others  in  being  generally  recognized  in  Standard 

174.  It  is  not  usual  in  Germanic  languages  to  form 
compounds  with  a  verb  as  the  second,  and  an  object, 
an  adverb,  etc.  as  the  first,  part.  Hence,  when  we  find 
such  verbs  as  to  housekeep  (Mrs.  Humphrey  Ward,  Kip- 
ling, Merriman),  the  explanation  must  be  that  -er  has 
been  subtracted  from  the  perfectly  legitimate  noun  a 
housekeeper  (or  -ing  from  housekeeping).  The  oldest 
examples  I  know  of  this  formation  are  to  backbite,  to 
partake  (parttake)  and  to  conycatch  (Shakesp.);  others 
are  to  hutkeep,  common  in  Australia,  book-keep  (Shaw), 
to  soothsay,  to  thoughtread  (Why  don't  they  thoughtread 
each  other?  H.  G.  Wells),  to  typewrite  (I  could  typewrite 
if  I  had  a  machine,  id.,  also  in  B.  Shaw's  Candida),  to 
merrymake  (you  merrymake  together,   Du  Maurier).      It 

I  Cf.  however,  my  paper  quoted  above,  p.  173. 

Back -Formations.  17  c 

will  be  seen  that  most  of  these  are  nonce-words.  The 
verbs  to  henpeck  and  to  sunburn  are  back-formations 
from  the  participles  henpecked  and  sunburnt]  and  Brown- 
ing even  says  'moonstrike  him !'  (Pippa  Passes)  for  'let 
him  be  moonstruck.' 

175.  We  have  seen  (§  7  ff.)  that  monosyllabism  is  one 
of  the  most  characteristic  features  of  modern  English, 
and  this  chapter  has  shown  us  some  of  the  morphological 
processes  by  which  the  original  stock  of  monosyllables 
has  been  in  course  of  time  considerably  increased.  It 
may  not,  therefore,  be  out  of  place  here  briefly  to  give 
an  account  of  some  of  the  other  modes  by  which  such 
short  words  have  been  developed.  Some  are  simply 
longer  words  which  have  been  shortened  by  regular 
phonetic  development  (cf.  love  §  163);  e.  g.  eight  0.  E. 
eahta,  dear  0.  E.  deore,  fowl  O.  E.  fugol,  hawk  0.  E.  hafoc^ 
lord  O.  E.  hlaford,  not  and  nought  O.  E.  nawiht,  pence  O.E. 
penigas,  ant  O.  E.  cemette,  etc.  Miss  before  the  names  of 
unmarried  ladies  is  a  somewhat  irregular  shortening  of 
'missis'  (mistress);  though  found  here  and  there  in  the 
seventeenth  century.  Miss  was  not  yet  recognized  in  the 
middle  of  the  eighteenth  century  (cf.  Fielding's  Mrs. 
Bridgit,  Mrs.  Honour,  etc.). 

176.  This  leads  us  to  the  numerous  popular  clippings 
of  long  foreign  words,  of  which  rarely  the  middle  (as  in 
Tench  'the  House  of  Detention'  and  teck  'detective')  or  the 
end  (as  in  bus  'omnibus',  baccer,  baccy  'tobacco',  phone 
'telephone'),  but  more  often  the  beginning  only  subsists. 
Some  of  the  short  forms  have  never  passed  beyond  slang, 
such  as  sov  'sovereign',  pub  'public-house',  confab  'con- 
fabulation', pop  'popular  concert',  vet  'veterinary  sur- 
geon', Jap  'Japanese',  guv  'Governor',  Mods  'Moderations', 
an  Oxford  examination,  matric  'matriculation',  prep  'pre- 
paration' and  impot  or  impo  'imposition'  in  schoolboy's 
slang,  sup  'supernumerary',  props  'properties'  in  theatri- 


VII.  Various  Sources. 

cal  s\,^ perks  'perquisites',  comp  'compositor',  caps 
'capital  letters',  etc.,  etc.  Some  are  perhaps  now  in  a  fair 
way  to  become  recognized  in  ordinary  speech,  such  as 
exam  'examination',  and  bike  'bicycle';  and  some  words 
have  become  so  firmly  established  as  to  make  the 
full  words  pass  completely  into  oblivion,  e.  g.  cab 
(cabriolet),  fad  (fadaise) ,  navvy  (navigator)  and  mob 
(mobile  vulgus). 

177.  A  last  group  of  English  monosyllables  comprises 
a  certain  number  of  words  the  etymology  of  which  has 
hitherto  baffled  all  the  endeavours  of  philologists.  At  a 
certain  moment  such  a  word  suddenly  comes  into  the 
language,  nobody  knowing  from  where,  so  that  we  must 
feel  really  inclined  to  think  of  a  creation  ex  nihilo.  I 
am  not  particularly  thinking  of  words  denoting  sounds 
or  movements  in  a  more  or  less  onomatopoetic  way,  for 
their  origin  is  psychologically  easy  to  account  for,  but 
of  such  words  as  the  following,  some  of  which  belong 
now  to  the  most  indispensable  speech  material:  bad}-, 
big^,  lad  and  lass,  all  appearing  towards  the  end  of  the 
thirteenth  century;  /i^ adjective  and /i/ substantive,  prob- 
ably two  mutually  independent  words,  the  adjective 
dating  from  1440,  the  substantive  in  the  now  current 
sense  from  1547;  dad  'father',  jump,  crease  'fold,  wrinkle', 
gloat,  and  bet  from  the  sixteenth  century;  job,  fun  (and 
pun?),  blight,  chum  and  hump  from  the  seventeenth  cen- 
tury; fuss,  jam  verb  and  substantive,  and  hoax  from  the 
eighteenth,  and  slum  perhaps  from  the  nineteenth  cen- 
tury. Anyone  who  has  watched  small  children  carefully 
must  have  noticed  that  they  sometimes  create  some  such 

1  See  Zupitza's  attempt  at  an  explanation  in  the  NED.,  which 
does  not  account  for  the  origin  of  bceddel. 

2  The  best  explanation  is  Bjorkman's,  see  Scand.  Loan- 
Words  p.  157  and  259;  but  even  he  does  not  claim  to  have 
solved  the  mystery  completely. 

Words  of  Uncertain  Origin.  I  77 

word  without  any  apparent  reason;  sometimes  they  stick 
to  it  only  for  a  day  or  two  as  the  name  of  some  plaything, 
etc.,  and  then  forget  it;  but  sometimes  a  funny  sound 
takes  lastingly  their  fancy  and  may  even  be  adopted  by 
their  playmates  or  parents  as  a  real  word.  Without  pre- 
tending that  such  is  the  origin  of  all  the  words  just 
mentioned  I  yet  venture  to  throw  out  the  suggestion  that 
some  of  them  may  be  due  to  children's  playful  inven- 

Jespkrshn:  Ehiglish.   2ad  ed.  12 

Chapter  VIII. 

178.  The  preceding  chapter  has  already  brought  us 
near  to  our  present  province  or  rather  has  crossed  its 
boundary,  for  word-formation  is  rightly  considered  one 
of  the  main  divisions  of  grammar.  In  the  other  divisions 
a  survey  of  the  historical  development  shows  us  the  same 
general  tendency  as  word-formation  does  (§  i6o),  the 
tendency,  as  we  might  call  it,  from  chaos  towards  cosmos. 
Where  the  old  language  had  a  great  many  endings,  most 
of  them  with  very  vague  meanings  and  applications, 
Modern  English  has  but  few,  and  their  sphere  of  signi- 
fication is  more  definite.  The  number  of  irregularities  and 
anomahes,  so  considerable  in  Old  English,  has  been  great- 
ly reduced  so  that  now  the  vast  majority  of  w^ords  are 
inflected  regularly.  It  has  been  objected  that  most  of 
the  old  strong  verbs  are  still  strong,  and  that  this  means 
irregularity  in  the  formation  of  the  tenses:  shake  shook 
shaken  is  just  as  irregular  as  Old  English  scacan  scoc 
scacen.  But  it  must  be  remembered,  first,  that  there 
is  a  complete  disappearance  of  a  great  many  of  those 
details  of  inflexion,  which  made  every  Old  English  para- 
digm much  more  complicated  than  its  modern  successor, 
such  as  distinctions  of  persons  and  numbers,  and  nearly 
all  differences  between  the  infinitive,  the  imperative, 
the  indicative,  and  the  conjunctive,  —  secondly  that 
the  number  of  distinct  vowels  has  been  reduced  in  many 

Simplification.  lyg 

verbs;  compare  thus  beran  birep  beer  bceron  boren  with 
bear  bears  bore  bore  born,  feohtan  (fieht)  feaht  juhton 
fohten  with  fight  (fights)  fought  fought  fought,  bindan  band 
bunden  with  bind  bound  bound,  berstan  bcerst  burston 
borsten  with  burst  burst  burst  burst,  —  and  thirdly  that  the 
consonant  change  found  in  many  verbs  (ceas  curon,  snaj) 
snidon,  teah  tugon)  has  been  abolished  altogether  except 
in  the  single  case  of  was  were.  The  greatest  change  to- 
wards simplicity  and  regularity  is  seen  in  the  adjectives, 
where  one  form  now  represents  the  eleven  different  forms 
used  by  the  contemporaries  of  Alfred. 

179.  It  would  take  up  too  much  space  here  to  ex- 
pound in  detail  the  whole  process  of  grammatical  devel- 
opment and  simplification.  It  has  taken  place  not  sud- 
denly and  from  one  cause,  but  gradually  and  from  a 
variety  of  causes.  Even  such  a  seemingly  small  step  as 
that  by  which  the  inflexion  with  nominative  ye,  accusa- 
tive and  dative  you  has  given  way  to  the  modern  use  of 
you  in  all  cases,  has  been  the  result  of  the  activity  of 
many  moving  forces.^  Nor  must  it  be  imagined  that  the 
development  has  in  every  minute  particular  made  for 
progress;  nothing  has  been  gained,  for  instance,  by  the 
modern  creation  of  mine  and  thine  as  absolute  possessive 
pronouns  by  the  side  of  my  and  thy.^  Sometimes  the 
ways  by  which  new  grammatical  expressions  are  won  are 
rather  round-about,  and  it  is  only  when  we  compare  the 
entire  linguistic  structure  of  some  remote  period  with  the 
structure  in  modern  times  that  we  observe  that  the  gain 
in  clearness  and  simplicity  has  really  been  enormous.  I 
shall  select  a  few  points  of  grammar,  which  seem  to  me 
illustrative  of  the  processes  of  change  in  general,  and  (as 
regards  some  of  them)   of  the   progressive    tendency   I 

1  Progress  in  Language,  chapter  VII. 

2  lb.  p.  68. 


1 80  VIII.  Grammar. 

have  mentioned.  The  first  point  is  the  development  of 
the  5-ending  in  nouns  (where  it  is  now  the  usual  mark 
of  the  genitive  case  and  of  the  plural  number)  and  in 
verbs  (where  it  indicates  the  third  person  singular  of 
the  present  tense);  as  the  latter  ending  has  prevailed  in 
competition  with  the  th-end'mg,  the  history  of  th  in  the 
formation  of  ordinal  numerals  will  next  be  considered. 
Then  the  wonderful  enrichment  of  the  language  due  to 
the  extended  use  of  the  zwg-ending  will  be  considered, 
and  finally  some  other  points  will  be  treated  with  the 
greatest  briefness  possible. 

180.  (I.  The  5-ending  in  nouns):  In  Old  English  the 
genitive  was  formed  in  es  in  most  masculines  and  neu- 
ters, but  beside  this  a  variety  of  other  endings  were  in 
use  with  the  different  stems,  in  -e,  in  -re,  in  -an;  some 
words  had  no  separate  ending  in  the  genitive,  and  some 
formed  a  mutation-genitive  [boc  'book',  gen.  bee).  Be- 
sides, the  genitive  of  the  plural  never  ended  in  -s,  but 
in  -a  or  -ra  or  -na  {-ena,  -ana).  With  regard  to  syntax, 
the  genitive  case  filled  a  variety  of  functions,  possessive, 
subjective,  objective,  partitive,  definitive,  descriptive,  etc. 
It  was  used  not  only  to  connect  two  substantives,  but 
also  after  a  great  number  of  verbs  and  adjectives  (re- 
joice at,  fear,  long  for,  remember,  fill,  empty,  weary, 
deprive  of,  etc.) ;  it  sometimes  stood  before  and  some- 
times after  the  governing  word.  In  short,  the  rules  for 
the  formation  as  well  as  for  the  employment  of  that 
case  were  complicated  to  a  very  high  degree.  But  grad- 
ually a  greater  regularity  and  simplicity  prevailed  in 
accidence  as  well  as  in  syntax;  the  5-genitive  was  extended 
to  more  and  more  nouns  and  to  the  plural  as  well  as 
the  singular  number,  and  now  it  is  the  only  genitive 
ending  used  in  the  language,  though  in  the  plural  it  is 
in  the  great  majority  of  cases  hidden  away  behind  the 
s  used  to  denote  the  plural  number  (kings'^  cf.  men's). 

The  Genitive.  1 8 1 

The  position  of  the  genitive  now  is  always  immediately 
before  the  governing  word,  and  this  in  connexion  with 
the  regularity  of  the  formation  of  the  case  has  been  in- 
strumental in  bringing  about  the  modern  group-genitive, 
where  the  s  is  tacked  on  to  the  end  of  a  word-group  with 
no  regard  to  the  logic  of  the  older  grammar:  the  King 
of  England's  power  (formerly  'the  kinges  power  of  Eng- 
land'), the  bride  and  bridegroom' s  return,  etc.^ 

181.  As  for  the  use* of  the  genitive,  it  has  been  in 
various  ways  encroached  upon  by  the  combination  with 
of.  First,  its  use  is  now  in  ordinary  prose  almost  re- 
stricted to  personal  beings,  and  even  such  phrases  as 
'society's  hard-drilled  soldiery'  (Meredith),  where  society 
is  personified,  are  felt  as  poetical;  still  more  so,  of  course, 
'thou  knowst  not  golds  effect'  (Sh.)  or  'setting  out  upon 
life's  journey'  (Stevenson).  But  in  some  set  phrases 
the  genitive  is  still  established,  e.  g.  out  of  harm's  way; 
he  is  at  his  wits'  (or  wit's)  end;  so  also  in  the  stock  quo- 
tation from  Hamlet,  in  my  mind's  eye,  etc.  Then  to  in- 
dicate measure,  etc.:  at  a  boat's  length  from  the  ship, 
and  especially  time:  an  hour's  walk,  a  good  night's  rest, 
yesterday's  post;  and  this  is  even  extended  to  such  pre- 
positional combinations  as  to-day's  adventures,  to-morrow's 

182.  Secondly,  the  genitive  (of  names  of  persons)  is 
now  chiefly  used  possessively,  though  this  word  must 
be  taken  in  a  very  wide  sense,  including  such  cases  as 
'Shelley's  works,'  'Gainsborough's  pictures,'  'Tom's  ene- 
my', 'Tom's  death,'  etc.  The  subjective  genitive,  too,  is  in 
great  vigour,  for  instance  in  'the  King's  arrival,'  'the 
Duke's  invitation,'  'the  Duke's  inviting  him,'  'Mrs.  Poy- 
ser's  repulse  of  the  squire'  (G.  Eliot).     Still  there  is,  in 

I  See  the  detailed  historical  account  of  the  group -genitive. 
Progress  in  Language  p.  279—318. 

jg2  VIII.  Grammar. 

quite  recent  times,  a  tendency  towards  expressing  the 
subject  by  means  of  the  preposition  by,  just  as  in  the 
passive  voice,  for  instance  in  'the  accidental  discovery  by 
Miss  Knag  of  some  correspondence'  (Dickens) ;  'the  appro- 
priation by  a  settled  community  of  lands  on  the  other 
side  of  an  ocean'  (Seeley),  'the  massacre  of  Christians  by 
Chinese.'  —  'Forster's  Life  of  Dickens'  is  the  same  thing 
as  'Dickens's  Life,  by  Forster'.  The  objective  genitive 
was  formerly  much  more  common  than  now,  the  ambi- 
guity of  the  genitive  being  probably  the  reason  of  its 
dechne.  Still,  we  find,  for  instance,  'his  expulsion  from 
power  by  the  Tories'  (Thackeray),  'What  was  thy  pity's 
recompense.?'  (Byron).  'England's  wrongs'  generally 
means  the  wrongs  done  to  England;  thus  also  'my  cosens 
wrongs'  in  Shakespeare's  R  2  IL  3.  141,  but  'your  foule 
wrongs'  (in  the  same  play.  III.  i.  15)  means  the  wrongs 
committed  by  you.  In  'my  sceptre's  awe'  (ib.  I.  i.  118) 
we  have  an  objective,  but  in  'they  free  awe  pays  hom- 
age to  us'  (Hamlet  IV.  3.  63)  a  subjective  genitive.  But 
on  the  whole  such  obscurity  will  occur  less  frequently  in 
English  than  in  other  languages,  where  the  genitive  is 
more  freely  used. 

183.  Now,  of  has  so  far  prevailed  that  there  are  very 
few  cases  where  a  genitive  cannot  be  replaced  by  it,  and 
it  is  even  used  to  supplant  a  possessive  pronoun  in  such 
stock  phrases  as  'not  for  the  death  of  me'  (cf.  Chaucer's 
'the  blood  of  me,'  LGW.  848).  Of  is  required  in  a  great 
many  cases,  such  as  'I  come  here  at  the  instance  of  your 
colleague.  Dr.  H.  J.  Henry  Jekyll'  (Stevenson),  and  it  is 
often  employed  to  avoid  tacking  on  the  s  to  too  long  a 
series  of  words,  as  in  'Will  Wimble's  is  the  case  of  many  a 
younger  brother  of  a  great  family'  (Addison)  or  'the 
wife  of  a  clergyman  of  the  Church  of  England'  (Thacke- 
ray), where  most  Englishmen  will  resent  the  iteration  of 
of's  less  than  they  do  the  repeated  5' as  in  Mrs.  Brown- 

(y- Phrases.  1 83 

ing's  'all  the  hoofs  Of  King  Saul's  father's  asses'.  Even 
long  strings  of  prepositions  are  tolerated,  as  in  'on  the 
occasion  of  the  coming  of  age  of  one  of  the  youngest 
sons  of  a  wealthy  member  of  Parliament',  or  'Swift's 
visit  to  London  in  1 707  had  for  its  object  the  obtaining 
for  the  Irish  Church  of  the  surrender  by  the  Crown  of 
the  First-Fruits  and  Twentieths'  (Aitken)  or  'that  sub- 
lime conception  of  the  Holy  Father  of  a  spiritual  king- 
dom on  earth  under  the  sovereignty  of  the  Vicar  of 
Jesus  Christ  himself'  (Hall  Caine).  I  suppose  that  very 
few  readers  of  the  original  books  have  found  anything 
heavy  or  cumbersome  in  these  passages,  even  if  they 
may  here,  where  their  attention  is  drawn  to  the  gram- 
matical construction. 

184.  Speaking  of  the  genitive,  we  ought  also  to  men- 
tion the  curious  use  in  phrases  like  *a  friend  of  my  bro- 
ther's'. This  began  in  the  fourteenth  century  with  such 
instances  as  'an  officere  of  the  prefectes'  (Chaucer  G  368), 
where  officers  is  readily  supplied  (=  one  of  the  prefect's 
officers)  and  'if  that  any  neighebor  of  mine  (=  any  of 
my  neighbours)  Wol  nat  in  chirche  to  my  wyf  enclyne' 
(id.  B  3091);  compare  also  'ne  no-thing  of  hise  thinges 
is  out  of  my  power'  (id.  I  879).  In  the  course  of  a  few 
centuries,  the  construction  became  more  and  more  fre- 
quent, so  that  it  has  now  long  been  one  of  the  fixtures 
of  the  English  language.  The  partitive  sense  is  still  con- 
ceivable in  such  phrases  as  'an  olde  religious  unckle  of 
mine'  (Sh.,  As  III.  3.  362)  =  one  of  my  uncles,  though 
it  will  be  seen  that  it  is  impossible  to  analyze  it  as  being 
equal  to  'one  of  my  old  religious  uncles'.  The  feeling  of 
the  partitive  origin  of  the  construction  must,  indeed, 
soon  have  been  lost,  and  the  construction  was  employed 
chiefly  to  avoid  the  juxtaposition  of  two  pronouns,  'this 
hat  of  mine,  that  ring  of  yours'  being  preferred  to  'this 
my  hat,  that  your  ring',  or  of  a  pronoun  and  a  genitive, 


VIII.  Grammar. 

as  in  'any  ring  of  Jane's',  where  'any  Jane's  ring'  or 
'Jane's  any  ring'  would  be  impossible;  compare  also  'I 
make  it  a  rule  of  mine',  'this  is  no  fault  of  Frank's',  etc. 
In  all  such  cases  the  construction  was  found  so  convenient 
that  it  is  no  wonder  that  it  should  soon  be  extended 
analogically  where  no  partitive  sense  is  logically  possible, 
as  in  'nor  shall  [we]  ever  see  That  face  of  hers  againe' 
(Shakespeare,  Lear  I.  i.  267),  'that  flattering  tongue 
of  yours'  (As  IV.  i.  188),  'Time  hath  not  yet  so  dried 
this  bloud  of  mine'  (Ado  IV.  i.  195),  'If  I  had  such  a 
tyre,  this  face  of  mine  Were  full  as  lovely  as  is  this  of 
hers'  (Gent.  IV.  4.  190),  'this  uneasy  heart  of  ours' 
(Wordsworth),  'that  poor  old  mother  of  his',  etc.  When 
we  now  say,  'he  has  a  house  of  his  own',  no  one  ever 
thinks  of  this  as  meaning  'he  has  one  of  his  own  houses', 
so  that  the  meaning  of  the  idiom  has  changed  com- 
pletely—  a  phenomenon  of  very  frequent  occurrence  in 
the  history  of  all  languages. 

185.  In  the  nominative  plural  the  Old  EngHsh  de- 
clensions present  the  same  motley  spectacle  as  the  geni- 
tive singular.  Most  masculines  have  the  ending  as,  but 
some  have  e  (Engle,  etc.),  some  a  (suna,  etc.)  and  a  great 
many  an  (guman,  etc.);  some  nouns  have  no  ending  at 
all,  and  most  of  these  change  the  vowel  of  the  kernel 
(fet,  etc.),  while  a  few  have  the  plural  exactly  like  the 
singular  (hettend).  Feminine  words  formed  their  plural 
in  a  (giefa),  in  e  (bene),  in  an  (tungan)  or  without  any 
ending  (sweostor;  with  mutation  bee).  Neuters  had  either 
no  ending  (word)  or  else  u  (hofu)  or  an  (eagan).  From 
the  oldest  period  the  ending  as  (later  es,  s)  has  been 
continually  gaining  ground,  first  among  those  masculines 
that  belonged  to  other  declensional  classes,  later  on  also 
in  the  other  genders.  The  aw-ending,  which  was  common 
to  a  very  great  number  of  substantives  from  the  very  be- 
ginning, also  showed  great  powers  of  expansion  and  at 



one  time  seemed  as  likely  as  (e)s  to  become  the  universal 
plural  ending.  But  finally  (e)s  carried  the  day,  probably 
because  it  was  the  most  distinctive  ending.^  In  the  be- 
ginning of  the  modern  period  eyen,  shoon,  and  hosen, 
housen,  peasen  still  existed,  but  they  were  doomed  to 
destruction,  and  now  oxen  is  the  only  real  plural  in  n 
surviving,  for  children  as  well  as  the  biblical  kine  and 
brethren  are  too  irregular  to  count  as  plurals  made  by 
the  addition  of  n.  The  mutation  plural  has  survived  in 
some  words  whose  signification  causes  the  plural  to  occur 
more  frequently  than,  or  at  least  as  frequently  as,  the 
singular:  geese^  teeth,  feet,  mice,  lice,  men  and  women.  In 
all  other  words  the  analogy  of  the  plurals  in  s  was  too 
strong  for  the  old  form  to  be  preserved. 

186.  Instead  of  the  ending  -ses  we  often  find  a  single  s\ 
in  some  cases  this  may  be  the  continued  use  of  the 
French  plural  form  without  any  ending  [cas  sg.  and  pi.), 
as  in  sense  (their  sense  are  shut,  Sh.),  corpse  (pi.  Sh.)  etc. 
In  Coriolanus  III.  i.  118  voyce  and  voyces  occur,  both  of 
them  to  be  read  as  one  syllable:  'Why  shall  the  people 
give  One  that  speakes  thus,  their  voyce .^  —  He  give  my 
reasons.  More  worthier  than  their  voyces.  They  know 
the  corne.'  But  when  Shakespeare  uses  princesse,  balance, 
or  merchandize  as  plurals  (Tp.  I.  2.  173;  Merch.  IV.  i.  255; 
Ant.  11.  5.  104),  the  forms  admit  of  no  other  explanation  \  1 
\than  that  of  haplology  (pronouncing  the  same  sound  I  I 
bnce  instead  of  twice).  Thus  also  in  the  genitive  case:  ^  * 
'his  mistresse  eye-brow'  (As  II.  7.  149),  'your  High- 
ness' pleasure',  etc.  Now  it  is  more  usual  to  give  the 
full  form  mistress's,  etc.,  yet  in  Pears'  soap  the  juxta- 
position of  three  s'ts  is  avoided  by  means  of  the  apostro- 
phized form.  The  genitive  of  the  plural  is  now  always 
haplologized :  'the  Poets'  Corner',  except  in  some  dialects: 

I   Progress  in  Lmiguage ,  p.  178  ff. 

I  85  VIII.  Grammar. 

'other  folks's  children'  (George  Eliot),  'the  bairns's  clease' 
(Murray,  Dial,  of  Scotl.  164).  Wallis  (1653)  expressly 
states  that  the  gen.  pi.  in  the  Lords'  House  (by  him 
written  Lord's)  stands  instead  of  the  Lords' s  House  (duo  \\ 
s  in  unum  coincidunt).  A  phenomenon  of  the  same  order 
is  the  omission  of  the  genitive  sign  before  a  word 
beginning  with  5,  now  chiefly  before  sake:  for  fashion 
sake,    etc. 

187.  Sometimes  an  s  belonging  to  the  stem  of  the 
word  is  taken  by  the  popular  instinct  to  be  a  plural 
ending.  Thus  in  alms  (ME.  almesse,  elmesse,  pi.  al- 
messes;  OE.  celmesse  from  Gr.  eleemosune) ;  it  is  signi- 
ficant that  the  word  is  very  often  found  in  connexions 
where  it  is  impossible  from  the  context  to  discover 
whether  a  singular  or  a  plural  is  intended  (ask  alms, 
give  alms,  etc.).  In  the  Authorized  Version  the  word 
occurs  eleven  times,  but  eight  of  these  are  ambiguous, 
two  are  clearly  singular  (asked  an  almes,  gave  much 
almes)  and  one  is  probably  plural  (Thy  praiers  and  thine 
almes  are  come  up).  Nowadays  the  association  between 
the  5  of  the  alms  and  the  plural  ending  has  become  so 
firm  that  an  alms  is  said  and  written  very  rarely  indeed, 
though  it  is  found  in  Tennyson's  Enoch  Arden.  Riches 
is  another  case  in  point;  Chaucer  still  lays  the  stress  on 
the  second  syllable  [richesse  as  in  French)  and  uses  the 
plural  richesses;  but  as  subsequently  the  final  e  disap- 
peared, and  as  the  word  occurred  very  often  in  such  a 
way  that  the  context  does  not  show  its  number  ('Thou 
bearst  thy  heavie  riches  but  a  journie',  Sh.  Meas.  III. 
I.  27;  thus  in  fourteen  out  of  the  24  places  where  Shake- 
speare uses  it),  it  is  no  wonder  that  the  form  was  gener- 
ally conceived  as  a  plural,  thus  'riches  are  a  power' 
(Ruskin).  The  singular  use  (the  riches  of  the  ship  is 
come  on  shore,  Sh.  0th.  II.  i.  83,  too  much  riches,  R2 
III.  4,  60)  is  now  wholly  obsolete.  i. 

Back -Formations.  1 87 

i      188.  A  further  step  is  taken  in  those  words  that  lose 
I  the  s  originally  belonging  to  their  stem,   because  it  is 
:  mistakenly  apprehended  as  the  sign  of  plural. ^     Latin 
pisum  became  in  OE.  pise,  in  ME.  pese,  pi.  pesen;  Butler 
(1633)  still  gives  peas  as  sg.  and  peasen  as  pi.,  but  he 
:  adds,  'the  singular  is  most  used  for  the  plural:  as  .  .  a 
peck  of  peas;  though  the  Londoners  seem  to  make  it  a 
regular  plural,  calling  a  peas  a  pea*.    In  compounds  like 
;  peaseblossom,    peaseporridge  and   pease- soup    (Swift,    Ch. 
i  Lamb)  the  oldCfroru;  was  preserved  long  after  pea  had 
I  become  the  recognized  singular.    Similarly  a  cherry  was 
j  evolved  from  a  form  in  5  (French  cerise),  a  riddle  from 
L:  riddles;  an  eaves  (OE.  efes,  cf.  Got.  ubizwa,  ON.  ups)  is 
t  often  made  an  eave,  and  vulgarly  a  pony  shay  is  said  for 
\  chaise;  compare  also  Bret  Harte's  'heathen  Chinee'  and 
the  parallel  forms  a  Portuguee,  a  Maltee.    An  interesting 
case  in  point  is   Yankee,  according  to  the  highly  probable 
explanation  recently  set  forth  by  H.  Logeman.   The  term 
was  originally  applied  to  the  inhabitants  of  the  Dutch 
colonies  in  North  America  (New  Amsterdam,  now  New 
York,  etc.).     Now  Jan  Kees  is  a  nickname  still  applied 
in  Flanders   to   people   from   Holland   proper.      Jan  of 
course   is   the   common   Dutch   name   corresponding   to 
English  John,  and  Kees  may  be  either  the  usual  pet-form       f  / 
of  the  name  Cornelis,  another  Christian  name  typical  of 
the  Dutch,  or  else  a  dialectal  variation  of  kaas  'cheese' 
in  allusion  to  that  typically  Dutch  product,  or  — what  is 
most    probable  —  a    combination    of   both.     Jankees  in 
English  became    Yankees,  where  the  s  was  taken  as  the 
plural  ending  and  eventually  disappeared,  and    Yankee 
became  the  designation  of  any  inhabitant  of  New  Eng- 
land and  even  sometimes  of  the  whole  of  the  United 

I  Cf.  the  other  back-formations  mentioned  above ,  S  i73-  Other 
instances  will  be  found  in  the  paper  there  quoted. 


jgg  VIII.  Grammar. 

189.  We  have  a  different  class  of  back-formations  in 
those  cases  in  which  the  s  that  is  subtracted  is  really  the 
plural  ending,  while  one  part  of  the  word  is  retained 
which  is  logically  consistent  with  the  plural  idea  only. 
It  is  easily  conceivable  that  most  people  ignorant  of  the 
fact  that  the  first  syllable  of  cinque-ports  means  'five', 
have  no  hesitation  in  speaking  of  Hastings  as  a  cinque- 
port;  but  it  is  more  difficult  to  see  how  the  signification 
of  the  numeral  in  ninepins  should  be  forgotten,  and  yet 
sometimes  each  of  the  'pins'  used  in  that  play  is  called 
a  ninepin,  and  Gosse  writes  'the  author  sets  up  his  four 

190.  In  some  words  the  s  of  the  plural  has  become 
fixed,  as  if  it  belonged  to  the  singular,  thus  in  means. 
As  is  shown  by  the  pun  in  Shakespeare's  Romeo  'no 
sudden  meane  of  death,  though  nere  so  meane'  the  old 
form  was  still  understood  in  hi!  time,  but  the  modern 
form  too  is  used  by  him  {by  that  meanes,  Merch. ;  a  means, 
Wint.).  Similarly:  too  much  pains,  an  honourable  amends,  a 
shambles,  an  innings,  etc.,  sonietimes  a  scissors,  a  tweezers, 
a  barracks,  a  golf  links,  etc.,  where  the  logical  idea  of  a 
single  action  or  thing  has  proved  stronger  than  the 
original  grammar. 

191.  It  is  not,  however,  till  a  new  plural  has  been 
formed  on  such  a  form  that  the  transformation  from 
plural  to  singular  has  been  completed.  This  phenomenon^ 
which  might  be  termed  plural  raised  to  the  second  power, 
will  naturally  occur  with  greater  facility  when  the  original 
singular  is  not  in  use  or  when  the  manner  of  forming  the 
plural  is  no  longer  perspicuous.  Thus  OE.  broc  formed 
its  plural  brec  {cf.  gos  ges  goose  geese),  but  broc  became 
obsolete,  and  brec,  breech  was  free  to  become  a  singular 
and  to  form  a  new  plural  breeches.  Similarly  invoices,  j, 
quinces,  bodices  and  a  few  others  have  a  double  plural  ■' 
ending;  but  then  the  unusual  sound  of  the  first  ending 

Double  Plurals.  i8q 

(voiceless  s,  where  the  ordinary  ending  is  voiced,  as  in 
joys,  sins)  facilitated  the  forgetting  of  the  original  function 
of  the  s  (written  -ce).  Bodice  is  really  nothing  but  a  by- 
form  of  bodies.  The  old  pronunciation  of  bellows  and 
gallows  had  also  a  voiceless  s,  which  helps  to  explain  the 
vulgar  plurals  bellowses  and  gallowses.  But  in  the  occasional 
plural  mewses  (from  a  mews,  orig.  a  mue)  the  new 
ending  has  been  added  in  spite  of  the  first  5  being  voiced. 
These  plurals  raised  to  the  second  power,  to  which  must 
be  added  sixpences,  threepences,  etc.,  are  particularly 
interesting  because  there  really  are  cases  where  the  want 
is  felt  of  expressing  the  plural  of  something  which  is  in 
itself  plural,  either  formally  or  logically;  cf.  many  (pairs 
of)  scissors.  Generally  one  plural  ending  only  is  used^, 
but  occasionally  the  logically  correct  double  ending  is 
resorted  to,  especially  among  uneducated  persons,* 
Thackeray  makes  hii  flunkey  write:  'there  was  8  sets  of 
^hamberses"  (Yellowplush  Papers,  p.  39),  and  a  London 
schoolboy^  once  wrote:  'cats  have  clawses'  (one  cat  has 
<:laws !)  and  again  'cats  have  9  liveses'  (each  cat  has  nine 
lives  !).  Dr.  Murray^  mentions  a  double  plural  sometimes 
formed  in  Scotch  dialect  from  luch  words  as  schuin  (one 
person's  shoes),  feit  'feet'  and  kye  *cow?5',  schuins  meaning 
more  than  one  pair  of  shoes,  and  he  ingeniously  suggests 
that  this  may  illustrate  such  plurals  as  children,  brethren, 
kine;  the  original  plurals  were  childer,  brether,  ky  (still 
preserved  in  the  northern  dialect),  which  may  have 
'come  to  be  used  collectively  for  the  offspring  or  members 
of  a  single  family,  the  herd  of  a  single  owner,  so  that  a 

1  'Then   ensued   one   of  the  most  lively  ten  minutes  that  I 
•can  remember'  (Conan  Doyle),  plural  of  'one  ten  minutes'. 

2  Very    Original  English,   ed.  by   Barker   (London     1889), 


3  Dialect  of  the  Southetn  Counties  of  Scotland  (London  1873), 

3>.  161. 

J  go  VIII.  Grammar. 

second  plural  inflection  became  necessary  to  express  the 
brethren  and  children  of  many  families,  the  ky-en  of  many 
owners  ...  In  modern  English  we  restrict  brothers,  which  re- 
places brether,  to  those  of  one  family,  using  brethren  for  those 
who  call  each  other  brother,  though  of  different  families.' 
192.  Most  of  the  words  that  make  their  plural  like  the 
singular  are  old  neuters,  the  5-ending  belonging  originally 
to  mascuHnes  only  and  having  only  gradually  been  ex- 
tended to  the  other  two  genders;  thus  swine,  deer,  sheep. 
But  as  the  unchanged  plurals  were  used  chiefly  in  a 
collective  sense,  a  difference  sprang  up  between  a  collec- 
tive plural  (unchanged)  and  an  individual  plural  (in  -5), 
as  seen  most  clearly  in  Shakespeare's  'Shee  hath  more 
haire  then  wit,  and  more  faults  then  hairs'  (Gent.  III. 
I.  362)  and  Milton's  'which  thou  from  Heaven  Feigndst 
at  thy  birth  was  giv'n  thee  in  thy  hair,  Where  strength 
can  least  abide,  though  all  thy  hairs  Were  bristles'  (Sams. 
Ag.  1 136).  This  difference  was  transferred  to  some  old 
masculines,  like  fish,  fowl;  and  a  great  m.any  names  of' 
particular  fishes  and  birds,  especially  those  generally 
hunted  and  used  for  food,  are  now  often  unchanged  in' 
the  plural  {snipe,  plover,  trout,  salmon,  etc.),  though ' 
with  a  great  deal  of  vacillation.  It  is  also  noticeable  that ' 
much  fruit  =  many  fruits  and  much  coal  =  many  coals. 
When  we  say  'four  hundred  men',  but  'hundreds  of  men', 
'two  dozen  collars',  but  'dozens  of  collars'  and  similarly 
with  couple,  pair,  score  and  some  other  words,  we  have 
an  approach  to  the  rule  prevailing  in  many  languages, 
e.  g.  Magyar,  where  the  plural  ending  is  not  added  after 
a  numeral,  because  that  suffices  in  itself  to  show  that  a 
plural  is  intended. 

193.  (II)  We  proceed  to  that  verbal  ending  which  is 
now  identical  in  form  with  the  ordinary  genitival  and 

Third  Singular.  I  g  I 

plural  ending  in  the  nouns,  namely  s  (he  loves,  etc.). 
In  Old-English  -th  (]?)  was  used  in  the  ending  of  the  third 
person  singular  and  in  all  persons  in  the  plural  of  the 
present  indicative,  but  the  vowel  before  it  varied,  so  that 
we  have  for  instance :  — 

Infinitive  '^rd  sg.  pi. 


binde)?,  bint 





But  in  the  Northumbrian  dialect  of  the  tenth  century 
5  was  substituted  to  )?  (singular  hindes,  plural  bindas), 
and  as  all  unstressed  vowels  were  soon  after  levelled, 
the  two  forms  became  identical  {hindes).  As  in  the  same 
dialect  the  second  person  singular  too  ended  in  5  (as 
^against  the  -st  of  the  South),  all  persons  sounded  alike 
except  the  first  singular.  But  the  development  was  not 
to  stop  there.  In  Old  English  a  difference  is  made  in  the 
plural,  according  as  the  verb  precedes  we  or  ge  ('y^')  or 
not  {binde  we,  binde  ge,  but  we  binda},  ge  bindaji).  This 
is  the  germ  of  the  more  radical  difference  now  carried 
through  consistently  in  the  Scotch  dialect,  where  the  s 
is  only  added  when  the  verb  is  not  accompanied  by  its 
proper  pronoun,  —  but  in  that  case  it  is  used  in  all  per- 
sons. Dr.  Murray  gives  the  following  sentences  among 

aa  cmn  fyrst  —  yt's  mey  at  cums  fyrst. 
wey  gang  theare  —  huz  tweae  quheyles  gangs  theare. 
they  cum  an'  teake  them  —  the  burds  cums  an'  pcecks  them. 

I  Dial,  of  the  Southern  Counties  of  Scotland,  1873, 
p.  212,  where  quotations  from  the  earlier  literature  are  also 


VIII.  Grammar. 

(I  come  first;  it  is  I  that  come  first;   we  go  there;  we  two 
sometimes  go  there;  they  come  and  take  them;  the  birds  I 
come  and  pick  them). 

In  the  other  parts  of  the  country  the  development  i 
was  different.    In  the  Midland  dialect  the  -en  of  the  sub-  1 
junctive  and  of  the  past  tense  was  transferred  to  the  : 
present  of  the  indicative,  so  that  we  have  the  following 
forms  in  the  standard  language:  —  X 

14  th  century  16  th  cent. 

I  falle  I  fall 

he  falleth  he  fall(e)th 

we  fallen  (falle)  we  fall. 

This  is  the  only  dialect  in  which  the  third  person  sin- 
gular is  kept  clearly  distinct  from  the  other  persons. 

In  the  South  of  England,  finally,  the  th  was  preserved 
in  the  plural,  and  was  even  extended  to  the  first  person 
singular.  Old  people  in  the  hilly  parts  of  Somersetshire 
and  Devonshire  still  say  not  only  [i  wo'k)?]  'he  walks', 
but  also  [^ei  ze)?,  ai  ze)?]  'they  say,  I  say'.  In  most  cases, 
however,  do  is  used,  which  is  made  [da]  without  any  th 
through  the  whole  singular  as  well  as  plural. 

194.  But  the  northern  s'ts  wandered  southward.  A 
solitary  precursor  is  found  in  Chaucer,  who  writes  oncej 
telles  instead  of  the  usual  telleth  for  the  sake  of  the  rimej 
(:elles,  Duchesse  73).^  A  century  later  Caxton  used  thei 
/^-ending  [eth,  ith,  yth)  exclusively,  and  this  remained; 
the  usual  practice  till  late  in  the  i6th  century,  when  s 
was  first  introduced  by  the  poets.  In  Marlowe  s  is  by 
far  the  commoner  ending,  except  after  hissing  consonants 

1  Elworthy,     Grammar    of  the    Dialect  of  West   Sonierset,{ 

p.  191  ff. 

2  In  the  Reves  Tale  the  j- forms  are  used  to  characterizei 
the  North  of  England  dialect  of  the  two  students  [gas  for  Chaucer's 
ordinary  gooth,  etc.) 

Th  and  s.  1^3 


I  (passeth,    opposeth,    pitcheth,    presageth,   etc.,   Tambur- 
I  laine  68,  845,   1415,   1622).     Spenser  prefers  5  in  poetry. 
I  In  the  first  four  cantos  of  the  Faerie  Queene  I  have  counted 
}i94  5'es  as  against  24  th's  (besides  8  has,  18  hath,  15  does, 
and  31  doth).   But  in  his  prose  th  predominates  even  much 
more  than  5  does  in  his  poetry.    In  the  introductory  letter 
to  Sir  W.  Raleigh  there  is  only  one  s  (it  needs),  but  many 
th's\  and  in  his  book  on  'the  Present  State  of  Ireland'  all 
the  third  persons  singular  end  in  th,  except  a  small  num- 
ber of  phrases  [me  seems,  several  times,  but  it  seemeth; 
what  hoots  it;  how  comes  it,  and  perhaps  a  few  more)  that 
seem  to  be  characteristic  of  a  more  colloquial  tone  than 
lithe  rest  of  the  book.    Shakespeare's  practice  is  not  easy 
ito  ascertain.    In  a  great  many  passages  the  folio  of  1623 
fjhas  th  where  the  earlier  quartos  have  5.     In  the  prose 
i  parts  of  his  dramas  s  prevails^  and  the  rule  may  be  laid 
['down  that  th  belongs   more  to  the  solemn  or  dignified 
i  speeches  than  to  everyday  talk,  although  this  is  by  no 
ji means  carried  through  everywhere.   In  Macbeth  I.  7.  29  ff. 
ijLady  Macbeth  is  more  matter-of-fact  than  her  husband 
j}(Lady:  He  has  almost  supt  ..  ,  .  Macb.:  Hath  he  ask'd 

[;for  me.?    Lady:  Know  you  not  he  ha's.    Macb He 

\]hath  honour'd  me  of  late  ....),  but  when  his  more  solemn 
■jmood  seizes  her,  she  too  puts  on  the  buskin  (Was  the 
[hope  drunke,  Wherein  you  drest  your  selfe.?  Hath  it 
[slept  since.?).  —  Where  Mercutio  mocks  Romeo's  love- 
isickness  (II.  I.  15),  he  has  the  Hne:  He  heareth  not,  he 
\stirreth  not,  he  moveth  not,  but  in  his  famous  description 
bf  Queen  Mab  (I.  4.  53  ff.)  he  has  18  verbs  in  5  and  only 
•two  in  th,  hath  and  driveth,  of  which  the  latter  is  used  for 

I  ' 

ithe  sake  of  the  metre. 


I   Franz,  Shakespeare- Granunatik,    2nd  ed.  p.  151:  In  Much 
Ado  (Q  1600)  th  is  not  found  at  all  in  the  prose  parts  and  only 
:wice  in  the  poetical  parts;  the  Merry  Wives,  which  is  chiefly 

I"  in  prose ,  has  only  one  th. 

I QA  VIII.   Grammar. 

195.  Contemporary  prose  has  nearly  exclusively  th] 
the  5-ending  is  not  at  all  found  in  the  Authorized  Version 
of  i6ii,  nor  in  Bacon's  Atlantis  (though  in  his  Essays] 
there  are  some  s'es).  The  conclusion  with  regard  to! 
Elizabethan  usage  as  a  whole  seems  to  be  that  the  form; 
in  ^  was  a  colloquialism  and  as  such  was  allowed  in  poetry  I 
and  especially  in  the  drama.  This  s  must,  however,  be 
considered  a  poetical  licence  wherever  it  occurs  in  that 
period.  But  in  the  first  half  of  the  seventeenth  century  5 
must  have  been  the  ending  universally  used  in  ordinary 
conversation,  and  we  have  evidence  that  it  was  even 
usual  to  read  s  where  the  book  had  th,  for  Richard  Hodges 
(1643)  gives  in  his  list  of  words  pronounced  alike  though 
spelt  differently  among  others  boughs  boweih  howze;  clause 
claweth  claws;  courses  courseth  corpses;  choose  cheweth^, 
and  in  1649  ^^^  says  'howsoever  wee  write  them  thus, 
leadeth  it,  maketh  it,  noteth  it,  we  say  lead's  it,  make's 
it,  note's  it!'  The  only  exceptions  seem  to  have  been 
hath  and  doth,  where  the  frequency  of  occurrence  pro- 
tected the  old  forms  from  being  modified  analogically^ 
so  that  they  were  prevalent  till  about  the  middle  of  th 
eighteenth  century.  Milton,  with  the  exceptions  just 
mentioned,  always  writes  5  in  his  prose  as  well  as  in  his 
poetry,  and  so  does  Pope.  No  difference  was  then  felt 
to  be  necessary  between  even  the  most  elevated  poetry 
and  ordinary  conversation  in  that  respect.  But  it  is 
well  worth  noting  that  Swift,  in  the  Introduction  tO; 
his  'Polite  Conversation',  where  he  affects  a  quasi- 
scientific  tone,  writes  hath  and  doth,  while  in  the 
conversations  themselves  has  and  does  are  the  forms 
constantly  used.^ 

1  See  Ellis,  Early  English  Pronu?iciatiofi ,  IV,  ioi8. 

2  This  applies,  partially  at  least,  to  saith  as  well. 

3  In   the  Journal  to  Stella  all   verbs   have  s,   except  hath, 
which  is,  however,  less  common  than  has. 

Th  and  s.  195 

196.  At  church,  however,  people  went  on  hearing  the 
//i-forms,  although  even  there  the  5'es  began  to  creep 
in.^  And  it  must  certainly  be  ascribed  to  influence  from 
bibhcal  language  that  the  ^A-forms  began  again  to  be 
used  by  poets  towards  the  end  of  the  eighteenth  century; 
at  first  apparently  this  was  done  rather  sparingly,  but 
nineteenth  century  poets  employ  th  to  a  greater^extent. 
This  revival  of  the  old  form  affords  the  advantage  from 
the  poet's  point  of  view  of  adding  at  discretion  a  syllable, 
as  in  Wordsworth's 

In  gratitude  to  God ,  Who  feeds  our  hearts 

For  His  own  service;  knoweth ,  loveth  us  (Prelude   13.276) 

or  in  Byron's 

Whate'er  she  loveth,  so  she  Imjes  thee  not, 

What  can  it  profit  thee?     (Heaven  and  Earth  I  sc.  2) 

Sometimes  the  ih-ioxm  comes  more  handy  for  the 
rime  (as  when  saith  rimes  with  death),  and  sometimes  the 
following  sound  may  have  induced  a  poet  to  prefer  one 
or  the  other  ending,  as  in 

Coleridge  hath  the  sway, 

And  Wordsworth  has  supporters,  two  or  three,  ^ 

but  in  a  great  many  cases  individual  fancy  only  decides 
which  form  is  chosen.  In  prose,  too,  the  th-ioxm.  begins  to 
make  its  re-appearance  in  the  nineteenth  century,  not 
only  in  biblical  quotations,  etc.,  but  often  with  the  sole 
view  of  imparting  a  more  solemn  tone  to  the  style,  as 

in  Thackeray's  'Not  always  doth  the  writer  know  whither 



1  See  the  Spectator,   no.  147  (Morley's  ed.  p.  217)  'a  set  of 
I  readers   [of  prayers   at  church]  who  affect,   forsooth,   a  certain 

gentleman -like  familiarity  of  tone,  and  mend  the  language  as 
they  go  on,  crying  instead  of  pardoneth  and  absolveth,  pardons 
and  absolves.' 

2  Do7i  Juan  XI,  69. 



VIII.  Grammar. 

the   divine   Muse   leadeth  him.'      Some   recent   novelists 
affect  this  archaic  trick  usque  ad  nauseam. 

197.  The  nineteenth  century  has  even  gone  so  far  as 
to  create  a  double-form  in  one  verb,  making  a  distinction 
between  doth  [pronounced  dA)?]  as  an  auxiliary  verb  and 
doeth  [pronounced  du'i)?]  as  an  independent  one.  The 
early  printers  used  the  two  forms  indiscriminately,  or 
rather  preferred  doth  where  doeth  would  make  the  line 
appear  too  closely  packed,  and  doeth  where  there  was 
room  enough.  Thus  in  the  Authorized  Version  of  161 1 
we  find  'a  henne  doeth  gather  her  brood  under  her  wings' 
(Luke  XIII.  34)  and  'he  that  doth  the  will  of  my  father' 
(Matth.  VII.  21),  where  recent  use  would  have  reverseH 
the  order  of  the  forms,  but  in  'whosoever  heareth  these 
sayings  of  mine,  and  doeth  them'  (Matth.  VII.  24)  the 
old  printer  happens  to  be  in  accordance  with  the  rule 
of  our  own  days.  When  the  ^^-form  was  really  livinp^, 
doeth  was  certainly  always  pronounced  in  one  syllable 
(thus  in  Shakespeare).  I  give  a  few  exam.ples  of  the  modern 
differentiation.^  J.  R.  Lowell  writes  (My  Love,  Poems 
1849,  I  129  =  Poetical  Works  in  one  volume  p.  6)  'She 
doeth  little  kindnesses  .  .  .  Her  life  doth  rightly  harmonize 
.  .  .  And  yet  doth  ever  flow  aright.'  Rider  Haggard  has 
both  forms  in  the  same  sentence  (She  199)  'Man  doeth 
this  and  doeth  that,  but  he  knows  not  to  what  ends  his 
sense  doth  prompt  him';  cf.  also  Tennyson's  The  Captain: 
'He   that  only  rules  by  terror,    Doeth  grievous  wrong.' 

198.  To  sum  up.  If  the  s  of  the  third  person  singular 
comes  from  the  North,  this  is  true  of  the  outer  form 
only;  the  'inner  form',  to  use  the  expression  of  some 
German  philologists,  is  the  Midland  one,  that  is  to  say. 

I  Which  has  not  been  noticed  in  Murray's  Dictionary,  though 
he  mentions  the  corresponding  difference  between  dost  and  doest 
as  'in  late  use'. 

Doeth.     Numerals.  igy 

s  is  used  in  those  cases  only  where  the  Midland  dialects 
had  th,  and  is  not  extended  according  to  the  northern 
rules.  In  vulgar  English  of  the  last  two  centuries  s  has 
been  used  in  the  first  person  singular:  /  wishes;  says  /, 
etc.  The  oldest  instance  I  have  noted  is  from  the  Rehear- 
sal (1671) :  'I  makes  'em  both  speak  fresh'  (Arber's  reprint, 
p.  53).  But  it  will  be  seen  that  this  is  in  direct  opposition 
to  the  northern  usage  where  the  s  is  never  found  by  the 
side  of  the  personal   pronoun.^ 

199.  (HI.  The  ending  th  in  ordinals).  While  the  cardinal 
numerals  show  very  little  change  during  the  whole  life 
of  the  language  except  what  is  a  consequence  of  ordinary 
phonetic  development^,  the  ordinals  have  been  much 
more  changed  so  that  their  formation  is  now  completely 
regular,  with  the  exception  of  the  first  three.  First  has 
ousted  the  old  forma  (corresponding  to  Latin  primus), 
.nd  the  French  second  has  been  called  in  to  relieve  other 
of  one  of  its  significations,  so  that  a  useful  distinction  has 
been  created  between  the  definite  and  the  indefinite 
numeral.  As  for  the  numbers  from  4  upwards,  the 
regularization  has  affected  both  the  stem  and  the  ending 
of  the  numeral.  In  Old  English  the  n  had  disappeared 
from  seofo^a,  nigo^a  and  teotia  (feowerteo^a,  etc.),  but  now 
it  has  been  analogically  reintroduced:  seventh,  ninth, 
tenth  (fourteenth,  etc.),  the  only  survival  of  the  older  forms 
being  tithe,  which  is  now  a  substantive  differentiated 
from  the  numeral,  as  seen  particularly  clearly  in  the  phrase 

1  I  leave  out  of  consideration  the  occasional  Shakespearian 
s  in  the  plural  of  the  verb  as  too  dubious  to  be  treated  in  a 
work  of  this  character. 

2  Note  that  in  Old  and  Middle  English  the  cardinals  had 
an  -e  when  used  absolutely  (y^men;  they  were  Jive],  and  that 
It  is  this  form  that  has  prevailed.  If  the  old  conjoint  form  had 
survived,  ^ve,  and  Hvelve  would  have  ended  in/  and  seven, 
nine,  ten  and  eleven  would  have  had  no  -n. 

iq8  VIII.  Grammar. 

*a  tenth  part  of  the  tithe'  (Auth.  Version,  Num.  i8.  26). 
In  twelfth  and  fifth  we  have  the  insignificant  anomaly  of  /  . 
(which  in  the  former  is  often  mute)  instead  of  v,  and  the 
consonant-group  in  the  latter  has  shortened  the  vowel, 
but  elsewhere  there  is  complete  correspondence  between 
each  cardinal  and  its  ordinal.    As  for  the  ending,  it  used 
according  to  a  well-known  phonetic  rule  to  be  -ta  (later 
'te,  t)  after  voiceless  open  consonants,  thus  fifta  fift,  sixta 
sixt,  twelfta  twelft;  and  these  are  still  the  only  forms  in 
Shakespeare   (Henry  the  Fift,   etc.)^  and   Milton.      The 
regular  forms  in  th  evidently  were  used  in  writing  before    ] 
they  became  prevalent  in  speaking,  for  Schade  in  1765   j 
laid  down  the  rule  that  th  was  to  be  pronounced  t  in 
twelfth  and   fifth.     Eighth,   which   would   be    more    ade-    : 
quately  written  eightth,  is  also  a  modern  form;   the  old 
editions  of  Shakespeare  have  eight.    The  formation  in  -th, 
which  is  now  beautifully  regular,  has  also  been  extended 
in   recent   times   to   a  few  substantives:    the  hundredth, 
thousandth,  millionth,  and  dozenth. 

200.  (IV)  The  history  of  the  forms  in  ing  is  certainly 
one  of  the  most  interesting  examples  of  the  growth  from 
a  very  small  beginning  of  something  very  important  in 
the  economy  of  the  language.  The  'ing',  as  I  shall  for 
shortness  call  the  form  with  that  ending,  began  as  a  pure 
noun^,  restricted  as  to  the  number  of  words  from  which 
it  might  be  formed  and  restricted  as  to  its  syntactical 
functions.  It  seems  to  have  been  originally  possible  tc 
form  it  only  from  nouns,  cf.  modern  words  like  schooling , 
shirting,  stabling;  as  some  of  the  nouns  from  which  ings 

1  Twelfth  Night  is  in  the  folio  of  1623  called  Tivelfe  NighA 
and  similarly  we  have  twelfe  day ,  where  the  middle  consonantl 
of  a  difficult  group  has  been  discarded,  just  as  in  the  thousand! 
part  (As  IV.  i.  46).  A 

2  The  Old  English  ending  was  ting  as  well  as  ing. 

Numerals.     Ing.  ign 

were  derived,  had  corresponding  weak  verbs,  the  ings 
came  to  be  looked  upon  as  derived  from  these  verbs, 
i  and  new  ings  were  made  from  other  weak  verbs,  (Also 
!  from  French  verbs,  cf.  above  §  io6).  But  it  was  a  long 
time  before  ings  were  made  from  strong  verbs;  a  few 
occur  in  the  very  last  decades  of  the  Old  English  period, 
but  most  of  them  did  not  creep  into  existence  till  the 
twelfth  or  thirteenth  century  or  even  later,  and  it  is  not, 
perhaps,  till  the  beginning  of  the  fifteenth  century  that 
the  formation  had  taken  such  a  firm  root  in  the  language 
that  an  ing  could  be  formed  unhesitatingly  from  any 
verb  whatever  (apart  from  the  auxiliaries  can^  may,  shall, 
need,  etc.,   which  have  no  ings). 

201.  With  regard  to  its  syntactical  use  the  old  ing  was 
a  noun  and  was  restricted  to  the  functions  it  shared  with 
all  other  nouns.  While  keeping  all  its  substantival  qual- 
ities, it  has  since  gradually  acquired  most  of  the  functions 
belonging  to  a  verb.  It  was,  and  is,  inflected  like  a  noun; 
now  the  genitive  case  is  rare  and  scarcely  occurs  outside 
of  such  phrases  as  'reading  for  reading's  sake';  but  the 
plural  is  common:  his  comings  and  goings;  feelings, 
drawings,  leavings,  weddings,  etc.  Like  any  other  noun 
it  can  have  the  definite  or  indefinite  article  and  an  ad- 
jective before  it:  a  beginning,  the  beginning,  a  good  be- 
ginning, etc.,  so  also  a  genitive:  Tom's  savings.  It  can 
enter  into  a  compound  noun  either  as  the  first  or  as  the 
second  part:  a  walking-stick;  sight-seeing.  The  ing  can 
be  used  in  a  sentence  in  every  position  occupied  by  an 
ordinary  noun.  It  is  the  subject  and  the  predicative 
nominative  in  'complimenting  is  lying',  the  object  in  'I 
hate  lying';  it  is  governed  by  an  adjective  in  'worth 
knowing',  and  governed  by  a  preposition  in  'before  an- 
swering', etc.  But  we  shall  now  see  how  several  of  the 
peculiar  functions  of  verbs  are  extended  to  the  ing.  The 
coalescence  in  form  of  the  verbal  noun  and  of  the  present 

200  VIII,  (jrammar. 

participle  is,  of  course,   one  of  the  chief  factors  of  this 

202.  When  the  ing  was  a  pure  noun  the  object  of  the 
action  it  indicated  could  be  expressed  in  one  of  three 
ways:  it  might  be  put  in  the  genitive  case  ('sio  feding 
)7ara  sceapa',  the  feeding  of  the  sheep,  Alfred),  or  it  might 
form  the  first  part  of  a  compound  (blood-letting)  or  — 
the  usual  construction  in  Middle  English  —  it  might  be 
added  after  of  (in  magnifying  of  his  name,  Chaucer). 
The  first  of  these  constructions  has  died  out;  the  last  is 
in  our  days  especially  frequent  after  the  article  (since 
the  telling  of  those  little  fibs,  Thackeray).  But  from  the 
fourteenth  century  we  find  a  growing  tendency  to  treat 
the  ing  like  a  form  of  the  verb  and,  accordingly,  to  put 
the  object  in  the  accusative  case.  Chaucer's  words  'in 
getinge  of  your  richesses  and  in  usinge  hem'  (B  2813) 
show  both  constructions  in  juxtaposition;  so  also  'Thou 
art  so  fat-witted  with  drinking  of  olde  sacke,  and  un- 
buttoning thee  after  supper'  (Henry  IV,  A.  I.  2.  2.) 
Chaucer's  'In  lif tinge  up  his  hevy  dronken  cors'  (H  67) 
shows  a  double  deviation  from  the  old  substantival  con- 
struction, for  an  ordinary  noun  cannot  in  this  way  be 
followed  by  an  adverb,  and  in  the  old  language  the 
adverb  was  joined  to  the  ing  in  a  different  way  (up- 
lifting, in-coming,  down -going).  In  course  of  time  it 
became  more  and  more  usual  to  join  any  kind  of  ad- 
verb to  the  ing,  e.  g.  'a  man  shal  not  wyth  ones  [once] 
over  redyng  fynde  the  ryght  understandyng'  (Caxton), 
'he  proposed  our  immediately  drinking  a  bottle  to- 
gether' (Fielding),  'nothing  distinguishes  great  men 
from  inferior  men  more  than  their  always,  whether  in 
Hfe  or  in  art ,  knowing  the  ways  things  are  going'  (Ruskin). 

203.  A  noun  does  not  admit  of  any  indication  of  time; 
his  movement  may  correspond  in  meaning  to  'he  moves 
(is  moving)',  'he  moved  (was  moving)',  or  'he  will  move.' 

Ing.  201 

Similarly  the  ing  had  originally,  and  to  a  great  extent 
still  has,  no  reference  to  time:  'on  account  of  his  coming' 
may  be  equal  to  'because  he  comes'  or  'because  he  came' 
or  'he  will  come',  according  to  the  connexion  in  which  it 
occurs.     'I  intend  seeing  the  king'  refers  to  the  future, 
'I  remember  seeing  the  king'  to  the  past,  or  rather  the 
ing  as  such  implies  neither  of  these  tenses.    But  since  the 
end   of  the  sixteenth   century  the   ing  has   still  further 
approximated  to  the  character  of  a  verb  by  developing 
a   composite   perfect.      Shakespeare,    who   uses   the   new 
tense  in  a  few  places,  e.  g.  Gent.  I.  3.  16  (To  let  him  spend 
his  time  no  more  at  home;   Which  would  be  great  im- 
peachment to  his  age,   In  having  knowne  no  travaile  in 
his  youth')  does  not  always  use  it  where  it  would  be  used 
now;  for  in  'Give  orders  to  my  servants  that  they  take 
No  note  at  all  of  our  being  absent  hence'  being  corresponds 
in   meaning   to   having   been,    as   shown   by   the   context 
(Merch.  of  Ven.  V.  120).  —  Like  other  nouns  the  ing  was 
also  at  first  incapable  of  expressing  the  verbal  distinction 
between  the  active  and  the  passive  voice.    The  simple  ing 
is  still  often  neutral  in  this  respect,   and  in  some  con- 
nexions   assumes    a    passive    meaning,    as    in    'it    wants 
mending',   'the  story  lost  much  in  the  teUing'.     This  is 
extremely  frequent  in  old  authors,  e.  g.    'Use  everie  man 
after  his  desart,  and  who  should  scape  whipping'  (Ham- 
let II.  2.  554).  'Shall  we  .  .  .  excuse  his  throwing  into  the 
water?'     (Wiv.  III.  3.  206  =  his  being,  or  having  been, 
thrown),  'An  instrument  of  this  your  calling  backe'  (0th. 
IV.  2.  45).  But  about  1600  a  new  form  came  into  existence, 
as   the  old   one  would  often  appear  ambiguous,   and   it 
was  felt  convenient  to  be  able  to  distinguish  between 
'foxes   enjoy  hunting'   and    'foxes   enjoy  being  hunted'. 
The  new  passive  is  rare  in  Shakespeare  ('I  spoke  ...  of 
being  taken  by  the  insolent  foe',  0th.  I.  3.  136),  but  has 
now  for  a  long  time  been  firmly  established  in  the  language. 

20  2  VIII.  Grammar. 

204.  The  last  step  in  this  long  development  of  a  form 
at  first  purely  substantival  into  one  partly  substantival 
and  partly  verbal  in  function  was  taken  about  two  hun- 
dred years  ago.  The  subject  of  the  ing,  like  that  of  any 
verbal  noun  (for  instance  Ccesar's  conquests,  Pope's 
imitations  of  Horace),  is  for  the  most  part  put  in  the 
genitive  case  —  nearly  always  when  it  is  a  personal  pro- 
noun (in  spite  of  his  saying  so),  and  generally  when  it 
indicates  a  person  (in  spite  of  John's  saying  so).  But  a 
variety  of  circumstances  led  to  the  adoption  in  many 
instances  of  a  new  construction,  which  is  wrongly  taken 
by  most  grammarians  as  containing  the  present  participle 
and  not  the  'gerund'.  I  shall  give  elsewhere  my  reasons 
for  not  accepting  that  view  and  here  content  myself  with 
quoting  a  few  instances  of  the  new  construction  out  of 
several  hundreds  which  I  have  collected:  'When  we  talk 
of  this  man  or  that  woman  being  no  longer  the  same 
person'  (Thackeray),  'besides  the  fact  of  those  three 
being  there,  the  drawbridge  is  kept  up'  (Anth.  Hope), 
'When  I  think  of  this  being  the  last  time  of  seeing  you' 
(Miss  Austen),  'the  possibility  of  such  an  effect  being 
wrought  by  such  a  cause'  (Dickens),  'he  insisted  upon 
the  Chamber  carrying  out  his  policy'  (Lecky),  'I  have  not 
the  least  objection  in  life  to  a  rogue  being  hung'  (Thacke- 
ray; here  evidently  no  participle),  'no  man  ever  heard  of 
opium  leading  into  delirium  tremens'  (De  Quincey),  'the 
suffering  arises  simply  from  people  not  understanding 
this  truism'  (Ruskin).  These  examples  will  show  that  the 
construction  is  especially  useful  in  those  cases  where 
for  some  reason  or  other  it  is  impossible  to  use  the 
genitive  case,  but  that  it  is  also  found  where  no  such 
reason  could  be  adduced.  — Let  me  sum  up  by  saying  that 
when  an  Englishman  now  says,  'There  is  some  probability 
of  the  place  having  never  been  inspected  by  the  police', 
he  deviates  in  four  points  from  the  constructions  of  the 

Ing.     Gender.  203 

ing  that  would  have  been  possible  to  one  of  his  ancestors 
six  hundred  years  ago :  place  is  in  the  crude  form,  not  in 
the  genitive;  the  adverb;  the  perfect;  and  the  passive. 
Thanks  to  these  extensions  the  ing  has  clearly  become  a 
most  valuable  means  of  expressing  tersely  and  neatly 
relations  that  must  else  have  been  indicated  by  clumsy 
dependent  clauses. 

205.  (V.  Disappearance  of  the  old  word-gender).  In 
Old  English,  as  in  all  the  old  cognate  languages,  each 
substantive,  no  matter  whether  it  referred  to  animate 
beings  or  things  or  abstract  notions,  belonged  to  one  or 
other  of  the  three  gender-classes.  Thus  he  was  used  in 
speaking  of  a  great  many  things  that  had  nothing  mas- 
culine in  their  actual  nature  (e.  g.  horn^  ende  'end',  ehba 
'ebb',  dceg  'day')  and  the  feminine  pronoun  [heo)  in  regard 
to  many  which  in  their  nature  were  not  feminine  (e.  g. 
sorh  'sorrow',  glof  'glove',  plume  'plum',  pipe).  Anyone 
acquainted  with  the  intricacies  of  the  same  system  (or 
want  of  system)  in  German  will  feel  how  much  English 
has  gained  in  clearness  and  simplicity  by  giving  up  these 
distinctions  and  applying  he  only  to  male,  and  she  only 
to  female,  living  beings.  The  distinction  between  animate 
and  inanimate  now  is  much  more  accentuated  than  it 
used  to  be,  and  this  has  led  to  some  other  changes,  of 
which  the  two  most  important  are  the  creation  (about 
1600)  of  the  form  its  (before  that  time  his  was  neuter  as 
well  as  masculine)  and  the  restriction  of  the  relative 
pronoun  which  to  things :  its  old  use  alike  for  persons  and 
things  is  seen  in  'Our  father  which  art  in  Heaven'. 

206.  (VI)  A  notable  feature  of  the  history  of  the  English 
language  is  the  building  up  of  a  rich  system  of  tenses  on 
the  basis  of  the  few  possessed  by  Old  English,  where  the 
present  was  also  a  sort  of  vague  future,  and  where  the 

204  VIII.  Grammar. 

simple  past  was  often  employed  as  a  kind  of  pluperfect, 
especially  when  supported  by  cer  'ere,  before'.  The  use 
of  have  and  had  as  an  auxiliary  for  the  perfect  and  pluper- 
fect began  in  the  Old  English  period,  but  it  was  then 
only  found  with  transitive  verbs,  and  the  real  perfect- 
signification  had  scarcely  yet  been  completely  evolved 
from  the  original  meaning  of  the  connexion:  ic  hcebbe 
l>one  fisc  gefangenne  meant  at  first  'I  have  the  fish  (as) 
caught'  (note  the  accusative  ending  in  the  participle). 
By  and  by  a  distinction  was  made  between  'I  had  mended 
the  table'  and  'I  had  the  table  mended',  'he  had  left 
nothing'  and  'he  had  nothing  left'.  In  Middle  English 
have  came  to  be  used  in  the  perfect  of  intransitive  verbs 
as  well  as  transitive;  /  have  been  does  not  seem  to  occur 
earlier  than  1200.  With  such  verbs  as  go  and  comey  I  am 
was  used  in  the  perfect  for  several  centuries,  and  /  have 
gone  and  /  have  come  are  recent  formations.  The  use  of 
will  and  shall  as  signs  of  the  future  gradually  developed 
from  the  original  meaning  of  'will'  and  'obligation'.  The 
periphrastic  tenses  /  am  reading,  I  was  reading,  I  have 
been  reading,  I  shall  be  reading,  were  not  fully  devel- 
oped even  in  Shakespeare's  time  ;  they  are  to  a  great 
extent  due  to  the  old  construction  /  am  a-reading,  where 
a  (which  afterwards  disappeared)  represents  the  prepo- 
sition on  and  the  form  in  ing  is  not  the  participle,  but 
the  noun.  The  passive  construction  (the  house  is  being 
built)  is  an  innovation  dating  from  the  end  of  the  eigh- 
teenth century.  According  to  Fitzedward  Hall  the  oldest 
example  known  is  found  in  a  letter  from  Southey  [1795). 
Before  that  time  the  phrase  was  the  house  is  building,  i.  e. 
is  a-building  'is  in  construction',  and  the  new  phrase  had 
to  fight  its  way  against  much  violent  opposition  in  the 
nineteenth  century  before  it  was  universally  recognized 
as  good  English.  —  While  the  number  of  tenses  has  been 
increased,  the  number  of  moods  has  tended  to  diminish, 

Tenses.     Innovations.  205 

the  subjunctive  having  now  very  little  vital  power  left. 
Most  of  its  forms  have  become  indistinguishable  from 
those  of  the  indicative ,  but  the  loss  is  not  a  serious 
one,  for  the  thought  is  just  as  clearly  expressed  in 
'if  he  died',  where  died  may  be  either  indicative  or 
subjunctive,  as  in  'if  he  were  dead',  where  the  verb 
has  a  distinctively  subjunctive  form.  The  verbal  system 
has  undergone  one  more  important  change  by  the 
extensive  use  of  do  as  an  auxiliary,  especially  in 
negative  and  interrogative  sentences.  This  use  was  not 
regularized  in  the  modern  way  till  the  eighteenth  century. 

207.  (VII)  The  regularization  of  the  word  order  (cf. 
§  14)  has  been  very  useful  in  bringing  about  clear- 
ness in  sentence  -  construction,  and  has  at  the  same 
time  facihtated  many  of  the  simplifications  which  have 
taken  place  in  the  form  system  and  which  would  other- 
wise   have    been    attended    by    numerous    ambiguities. ^ 

208.  (VIII)  The  pronominal  system  has  been  rein- 
forced by  some  new  applications  of  old  material.  Who 
and  which,  originally  interrogative  pronouns  only,  are 
now  used  also  as  relatives.  Self  has  entered  into  the 
compounds  myself,  himself,  etc.,  and  has  developed  a 
plural,  ourselves,  themselves,  which  was  new  in  the  be- 
ginning of  the  sixteenth  century.  With  regard  to  the 
use  of  these  self-iorms  it  may  be  remarked  that  their 
frequency  first  increased  and  then  in  certain  cases  de- 
creased again:  he  dressed  him,  became  he  dressed  himself 
and  this  is  now  giving  way  to  he  dressed.  One  has  come 
to  serve  several  purposes;  as  an  indefinite  pronoun  (in 
'one  never  can  tell')  it  dates  from  the  fifteenth  century, 
and  as  a  prop-word   ('a  little  one',   'the  little  ones')  the 

I   Cf.  Progress  in  Language  p.  89  ff. 

2o6  VIII.   Grammar. 

full  modern  usage  goes  no  further  back  than  to  the  six- 
teenth century. 

209.  (IX)  New  conjunctions  have  come  into  existence 
such  as  supposing  (supposing  he  comes,  what  am  I  to  do?), 
provided  (I  have  no  objection,  provided  the  benefit  is 
mutual),  in  case  (have  it  ready,  in  case  she  should  send 
for  it,  Swift),  for  jear  (they  were  obliged  to  drive  very 
fast,  for  fear  they  should  be  too  late,  Dickens),  grant 
that  (Grant  that  one  has  good  food  ...  is  that  all  the 
pay  one  ought  to  have  for  one's  work.?  Ruskin),  like 
(through  which  they  put  their  heads,  like  the  Guachos 
do  through  their  cloaks,  Darwin),  directly  (Oh !  yes,  yes, 
said  Kate,  directly  the  whole  figure  of  the  singular  visitor 
appeared,  Dickens),  once  (once  that  decision  was  taken 
his  imagination  became  riotous,  H.  G.  Wells;  once  you 
are  married,  there  is  nothing  left  for  you,  not  even 
suicide,  but  to  be  good,  R.  L.  Stevenson,  Virg.  Puerisque 
34).  It  is  evident  that  all  these  new  conjunctions  serve  to 
vary  the  modes  of  joining  sentences  together  and  express 
nuances  that  the  old  if,  when,  etc.,  cannot  render  in  so 
vivid  a  way;  but  I  am  bound  to  admit  that  a  great  many 
Englishmen  object  to  some  of  them,  especially  like  and  once. 

210.  (X)  The  manner  in  which  compound  nouns  are 
built  up  has  been  modified.  In  compounds  of  the  old 
type  the  close  combination  of  both  nouns  is  shown  by 
the  accentual  subordination  of  the  second  element,  cf. 
goldsmith,  godson,  footstep,  leapyear;  and  very  often  one 
part,  or  both,  may  be  phonetically  changed,  sometimes 
even  past  recognition,  cf.  postman,  waistcoat,  husband, 
hussy  (=  housewife).  But  in  recent  times  a  new  type  has 
sprung  up  in  which  the  second  part  is  not  thus  accentually 
subordinated  to  the  first,  but  is  stressed  at  least  nearly 
as    much   as,    and   sometimes   even   more   than   the   first 



component.  Examples  are  gold  coin,  coat  tail,  village  green, 
lead  pencil,  headmaster.'^  Each  part  thus  is  more  indepen- 
dent of  the  other  than  in  the  old  type,  and  as  an  adjective 
is  now  just  as  uninflected  as  a  noun  forming  the  first 
part  of  a  compound,  the  combinations  adjective  +  noun 
and  noun  +  noun  are  felt  to  be  nearly  equivalent.  This 
has  in  recent  times  led  to  some  curious  consequences, 
some  examples  of  which  may  be  here  given.  We  see 
coordination  with  a  true  adjective  in  'the  sepulcher  Hath 
op'd  his  ponderous  and  marble  jawes'  (Hamlet),  'with 
thin  and  rainbow  wings'  (Tennyson),  and  still  more  in 
'home  and  foreign  affairs',  'on  some  Cumberland  or  other 
affair'  (Carlyle),  and  in  'a  school  Latin  dictionary',  'an 
evening  radical  paper'.  The  use  of  the  prop- word  one  is 
interesting:  'This  umbrella,  said  Mr.  L.,  producing  a  fat 
green  cotton  one'  (Dickens),  'most  of  the  mountain  flowers 
being  lovelier  than  the  lowland  ones'  (Ruskin).  So  is  the 
use  of  a  qualifying  adverb  in  'from  a  too  exclusively 
London  standpoint',  'in  purely  Government  work'  (Lecky), 
'the  most  everyday  occurrences'  (Dobson).  Thus  nouns 
in  composition  are  assuming  more  and  more  of  the  prop- 
erties of  the  adjectives,  and  some,  as  a  matter  of  fact,  have 
already  become  adjectives  so  completely  that  they  are 
recognized  as  such  by  all  grammarians :  bridal  (originally 
brid-ealu  'bride -ale')  and  dainty  (Old  French  daintie  'a  deli- 
cacy', from  Latin  dignitatem),  both  assisted  by  their  see- 
mingly adjectival  endings,  further  cheap,  chief,  choice,  etc. 

211.  (XI)  There  are  some  important  innovations  in 
the  syntax  of  the  infinitive.  In  such  a  sentence  as  'it  is 
good  for  a  man  not  to  touch  a  woman',  the  noun  with  for 
was  originally  in  the  closest  connexion  with  the  adjective: 

I   Cf.  on   the   unstable   equilibrium   of  such   compounds   my 
Modem  Eng.  Grammar  I  p.  i54ff. 

2o8  Mil.  Grammar. 

'What  is  good  for  a  man?'  'Not  to  touch  a  woman'.  But 
by  a  natural  shifting  this  came  to  be  apprehended  as  'it 
is  good  I  for  a  man  not  to  touch  a  woman',  so  that  for 
a  man  was  felt  to  be  the  subject  of  the  infinitive,  and  this 
manner  of  indicating  the  subject  gradually  came  to  be 
employed  where  the  original  construction  is  excluded. 
Thus  in  the  beginning  of  a  sentence:  'For  us  to  levy 
power  Proportionate  to  th'enemy,  is  all  impossible' 
(Shakespeare),  and  after  than:  'I  don't  know,  what  is 
worse  than  for  such  wicked  strumpets  to  lay  their  sins  at 
honest  men's  doors'  (Fielding);  further  'What  I  like  best, 
is  for  a  nobleman  to  marry  a  miller's  daughter.  And  what 
I  like  next  best,  is  for  a  poor  fellow  to  run  away  with  a 
rich  girl'  (Thackeray),  'it  is  of  great  use  to  healthy  women 
for  them  to  cycle'. ^  Another  recent  innovation  is  the  use 
of  to  as  what  might  be  called  a  pro-infinitive  instead  of 
the  clumsy  to  do  so:  'Will  you  play?'  'Yes,  I  intend  to'. 
'I  am  going  to'.  This  is  one  among  several  indications  that 
the  linguistic  instinct  now  takes  to  to  belong  to  the  pre- 
ceding verb  rather  than  to  the  infinitive,  a  fact  which, 
together  with  other  circumstances,  serves  to  explain  the 
phenomenon  usually  mistermed  'the  split  infinitive'. 
This  name  is  bad  because  we  have  many  infinitives 
without  to,  as  'I  made  him  go'.  To  therefore  is  no  more 
an  essential  part  of  an  infinitive  than  the  definite  article 
is  an  essential  part  of  a  nominative,  and  no  one  would 
think  of  calling  'the  good  man'  a  split  nominative.  Al- 
though examples  of  an  adverb  between  to  and  the  in- 
finitive occur  as  early  as  the  fourteenth  century,  they  do 
not  become  very  frequent  till  the  latter  half  of  the  nine- 
teenth century.  In  some  cases  they  decidedly  contribute 
to  the  clearness  of  the  sentence  by  showing  at  once  what 
word  is  qualified  by  the  adverb.   Thackeray's  and  Seeley's 

I   See  my  article  in  Festschrift  Vii'tor  (Marburg-  1910),  p.  85ff. 



sentences  'she  only  wanted  a  pipe  in  her  mouth  con- 
siderably to  resemble  the  late  Field  Marshal'  and  'the 
poverty  of  the  nation  did  not  allow  them  successfully  to 
compete  with  the  other  nations'  are  not  very  happily  built 
up,  for  the  reader  at  the  first  glance  is  inclined  to  connect 
the  adverb  with  what  precedes.  The  sentences  would 
have  been  clearer  if  the  authors  had  ventured  to  place  to 
before  the  adverb,  as  Burns  does  in  'Who  dar'd  to  nobly 
stem  tyrannic  pride',  and  Carlyle  in  'new  Emissaries  are 
trained,  with  new  tactics,  to,  if  possible,  entrap  him, 
and  hoodwink  and  handcuff  him'. 

213.  This  rapid  sketch  of  grammatical  changes,  though 
necessarily  giving  only  a  fraction  of  the  material  on  which 
it  is  based,  has  yet,  I  hope,  been  sufficiently  full  to  show 
that  such  changes  are  continually  going  on  and  that  it 
would  be  a  gross  error  to  suppose  that  any  deviation  from 
the  established  rules  of  grammar  is  necessarily  a  corrup- 
tion. Those  teachers  who  know  least  of  the  age,  origin, 
and  development  of  the  rules  they  follow,  are  generally 
the  most  apt  to  think  that  whatsoever  is  more  than  these 
cometh  of  evil,  while  he  who  has  patiently  studied  the 
history  of  the  past  and  trained  himself  to  hear  the  lin- 
guistic grass  grow  in  the  present  age  will  generally  be 
more  inclined  to  see  in  the  processes  of  human  speech  a 
wise  natural  selection,  through  which  while  nearly  all 
innovations  of  questionable  value  disappear  pretty  soon, 
the  fittest  survive  and  make  human  speech  ever  more 
varied  and  flexible  and  yet  ever  more  easy  and  convenient 
to  the  speakers.  There  is  no  reason  to  suppose  that  this 
development  has  come  to  a  stop  with  the  close  of  the 
nineteenth  century:  let  us  hope  that  in  the  future  the 
more  and  more  almighty  schoolmaster  may  not  nip  too 
many  beneficial  changes  in  the  bud. 

Jespersen:  English.    2n(i  ed.  1 4 

Chapter  IX. 
Shakespeare  and  the  Language  of  Poetry. 

213.  In  this  chapter  I  shall  endeavour  to  characterize 
the  language  of  the  greatest  master  of  English  poetry 
and  make  some  observations  in  regard  to  his  influence 
on  the  English  language  as  well  as  in  regard  to  poetic 
and  archaic  language  generally.  But  it  must  be  distinctly 
understood  that  I  shall  concern  myself  with  language  and  ij 
not  with  literary  style.  It  is  true  that  the  two  things 
cannot  be  completely  kept  apart,  but  as  far  as  possible  1 
shall  deal  only  with  what  are  really  philological  as  opposed 
to  literary  problems. 

214.  Shakespeare's  vocabulary  is  often  stated  to  be 
the  richest  ever  employed  by  any  single  man.  It  has  been 
calculated  to  comprise  2i,000  words  ('rough  calculation, 
found  in  Mrs.  Clarke's  Concordance  .  .  .  without  counting 
inflected  forms  as  distinct  words',  Craik),  or,  according 
to  others,  24,000  or  15,000.  In  order  to  appreciate  what  I 
that  means  we  must  look  a  little  at  the  various  statements 
that  have  been  given  of  the  number  of  words  used 
by  other  authors  and  by  ordinary  beings,  educated  and 
not  educated.  Unfortunately  these  statements  are  in 
many  cases  given  and  repeated  without  any  indication 
of  the  manner  in  which  they  have  been  arrived  at.^    Mil- 

I  Max  Miiller,  IVissenschaft  der  Sprache  I  360  and  Lectures 
on  the  Science  of  Language ,  6th  ed.  I  309.  Elze,  William  Shake- 
speare, Halle  1876,  449,    Wundt,  Volkerpsychologie,  Sprache  II, 

Vocabulary.  2  1 1 

ton's  vocabulary  is  said  to  comprise  7000  or  8000  words, 
that  of  the  Iliad  and  Odyssey  taken  together  9000,  that 
of  the  Old  Testament  5642  and  that  of  the  New  Testa- 
ment 4800. 

215.  Max  Miiller  says  that  a  farm-labourer  uses  only 
300  words,  and  Wood  that  'the  average  man  uses  about 
five  hundred  words'  (adding  'it  is  appalling  to  think  how 
pitiably  we  have  degenerated  from  the  copiousness  of 
our  ancestors').  But  both  figures  are  obviously  wrong. 
One  two-year-old  girl  had  489  and  another  1121  words 
(see  Wundt),  while  Mrs.  Winfield  S.  Hall's  boy  used  in 
his  17th  month  232  different  words  and,  when  six  years 
old,  2688  words  —  at  least,  for  it  is  probable  that  the 
mother  and  her  assistants  who  noted  down  every  word 
they  heard  <he  child  use,  even  so  did  not  get  hold  of  its 
whole  vocabulary.  Now,  are  we  really  to  believe,  with 
Wundt,  that  the  linguistic  range  of  a  grown-up  man, 
however  humble,  is  considerably  smaller  than  that  of  a 
two-year-old  child  of  educated  parents  or  is  only  one- 
seventh  of  that  of  a  six-year-old  boy!  Any  one  going 
through  the  lists  given  by  Mrs.  Hall  will  feel  quite  certain 
that  no  labourer  contents  himself  with  so  scanty  a  vocab- 
ulary. Schoolbooks  for  teaching  foreign  languages  often 
include  some  700  words  in  the  first  year's  course;  yet  on 
how  few  subjects  of  everyday  occurrence  are  our  pupils 

Leipz.  1900,  308.  Wood,  Journal  of  Germanic  Philology  I  294. 
Craik,  Engl.  Language  and  Literature  264.  Emerson,  History 
of  the  Engl.  Language,  1894,  114.  Le  Maitre  Phonetique  1888, 
47.  Smedberg ,  ^S'2/^«J/^«  landsmalen  Xi ,  9  (S7)  1896.  Marius 
Kristensen,  Aarbog  for  dansk  kulturhistorie  1897.  Babbitt, 
Common  Sense  in  Teachiftg Modern  Languages,  New  York  1895, 
II.  Svi&ti,  History  of  Language,  1900,  iZ9-  Weise,  Utisere 
Muttersprache ,  1897,  205,  Dewischeit,  Shakespeare -fahrbuch 
XXXIV  (1898)  190.  Mrs.  Winfield  S.  Hall ,  Child  Study ,  Monthly, 
March  1897  2ind  Journal  of  Childhood  and  Adolescence,  January 


2  12        IX.  Shakespeare  and  the  Language  of  Poetry. 

able  to  converse  after  one  year's  teaching.  Sweet  also 
contradicts  the  statement  about  300  words,  saying  'When 
we  find  a  missionary  in  Tierra  del  Fuego  compiling  a 
dictionary  of  30,000  words  in  the  Yaagan  language  — 
that  is,  a  hundred  times  as  many  —  we  cannot  give  any 
credence  to  this  statement,  especially  if  we  consider  the 
number  of  names  of  different  parts  of  a  waggon  or  a 
plough,  and  all  the  words  required  in  connexion  even 
with  a  single  agricultural  operation,  together  with  names 
of  birds,  plants,  and  other  natural  objects'.  Smedberg, 
who  has  investigated  the  vocabulary  of  Swedish  peasants 
and  who  emphasizes  its  richness  in  technical  teims, 
arrives  at  the  result  that  26,000  is  probably  too  small  a 
figure,  and  the  Danish  dialectologist  Kristensen  com- 
pletely endorses  this  view.  Professor  E.  S.  Holden  tested 
himself  by  a  reference  to  all  the  words  in  Webster's 
Dictionary,  and  found  that  his  own  vocabulary  com- 
prised 33,456  words.  And  E.  H.  Babbitt  writes:  'I  tried 
to  get  at  the  vocabulary  of  adults  and  made  experiments, 
chiefly  with  my  students,  to  see  how  many  English  words 
each  knew  .  .  .  My  plan  was  to  take  a  considerable  number 
of  pages  from  the  dictionary  at  random,  count  the  number 
of  words  on  those  pages  which  the  subject  of  the  ex- 
periment could  define  without  any  context,  and  work 
out  a  proportion  to  get  an  approximation  of  the  entire 
number  of  words  in  the  dictionary  known.  The  results 
were  surprising  for  two  reasons.  In  the  size  of  the  vocab- 
ulary of  such  students  the  outside  vaiiations  were  les-^. 
than  20  per  cent.,  and  their  vocabulary  was  much  larger 
than  I  had  expected  to  find.  The  majority  reported  a 
little  below  60,000  words'. 

216.  These  statements  are  easily  reconciled  with  the 
ascription  of  20,000  words  to  Shakespeare.  For  it  must 
be  remembered  that  in  the  case  of  each  of  us  there  is  a 
great   difference   between    the   words   known    (especially 

Vocabulary.  213 

those  of  which  he  has  a  reading  knowledge)  and  the  words 
actually  used  in  conversation.  And  then,  there  must 
always  be  a  great  many  words  which  a  man  will  use 
readily  in  conversation,  but  which  will  never  occur  in 
his  writings,  simply  because  the  subjects  on  which  a  man 
addresses  the  public  are  generally  much  less  varied  than 
those  he  has  to  talk  about  every  day.^  How  many  authors 
have  occasion  to  use  in  their  books  even  the  most  familiar 
names  of  garden  tools  or  common  dishes  or  kitchen 
implements?  When  Milton  as  a  poet  uses  only  8,000 
against  Shakespeare's  20,000  words,  this  is  a  natural 
consequence  of  the  narrower  range  of  his  subjects, 
and  it  is  easy  to  prove  that  his  vocabulary  really 
contained  many  more  than  the  8,000  words  found  in 
a  Concordance  to  his  poetical  works.  We  have  only 
to  take  any  page  of  his  prose  writings,  and  we 
shall  meet  with  a  great  many  words  not  in  the  Con- 

217.  The  greatness  of  Shakespeare's  mind  is  therefore 
not  shown  by  the  fact  that  he  was  acquainted  with  20,000 
words,  but  by  the  fact  that  he  wrote  about  so  great  a 
variety  of  subjects  and  touched  upon  so  many  human 
facts  and  relations  that  he  needed  this  number  of  words 

1  Inversely,  many  authors  will  use  some  (learned  or  abstract) 
words  in  writing  which  they  do  not  use  in  conversation;  their 
number,  however,  is  rarely  great. 

2  Thus,  on  p.  30  of  Areopagitica  I  find  the  following  21 
words,  which  are  not  in  Bradshaw's  Concordance:  churchman, 
competency,  utterly,  mercenary,  pretender,  ingenuous,  evi- 
dently, tutor,  examiner,  seism,  ferular,  fescu,  imprimatur, 
grammar,  pedagogue,  cursory,  temporize,  extemporize,  licencer, 
commonwealth,  foreiner.  And  p.  50  adds  18  more  words  to 
the  list:  writing,  commons,  valorous,  rarify,  enfranchise, 
founder,  formall,  slavish,  oppressive,  reinforce,  abrogate, 
mercilesse,  noble  (n.),  Danegelt,  immunity,  newnes,  unsut- 
ablenes,  customary. 

2  14        IX.  Shakespeare  and  the  Language  of  Poetry. 

in  his  writings.^  His  remarkable  familiarity  with  technical 
expressions  in  many  different  spheres  has  often  been 
noticed,  but  there  are  other  facts  with  regard  to  his  use 
of  words  that  have  not  been  remarked,  or  not  suf- 
ficiently remarked.  His  reticence  about  religious  mat- 
ters, which  has  given  rise  to  the  most  divergent 
theories  of  his  rehgious  behef,  is  shown  strikingly  in 
the  fact  that  such  words  as  Bible,  Holy  Ghost,  and 
Trinity  do  not  occur  at  all  in  his  writings,  while  Jesus 
(Jesu) ,  Christ  and  Christmas  are  found  only  in  some  of 
his  earliest  plays;  Saviour  occurs  only  once  (in  Hamlet), 
and  Creator  only  in  two  of  the  dubious  plays  (H  6  C  and 

218.  Of  far  greater  importance  is  his  use  of  language 
to  individualize  the  characters  in  his  plays.  In  this  he 
shows  a  much  finer  and  subtler  art  than  some  modern 
novelists,  who  make  the  same  person  continually  use  the 
same  stock  phrase  or  phrases.  Even  where  he  resorts  to 
the  same  tricks  as  other  authors  he  varies  them  more; 
Mrs.  Quickly  and  Dogberry  do  not  misapply  words  from 
the  classical  languages  in  the  same  way.  The  everyday 
speech  of  the  artisans  in  A  Midsummer  Night's  Dream 
is  comic  in  a  different  manner  from  the  diction  they  use 
in  their  comedy,  which  serves  Shakespeare  to  ridicule 
some  linguistic  artifices  employed  in  good  faith  by  many 
of  his  contemporaries  (alliteration,  bombast).  Shake- 
speare is  not  entirely  exempt  from  the  fashionable  affec- 

1  I  have  amused  myself  with  making  up  the  following  sen- 
tences of  words  not  used  by  Shakespeare  though  found  in  the 
language  of  that  time:  In  Shakespeare  we  find  no  blunders, 
although  decency  and  delicacy  have  disappeared;  energy  and 
enthusiasm  are  not  in  existence ,  and  we  see  no  elegant  express- 
ions nor  any  gleams  oi  genius ,  etc. 

2  The  act  against  profane  language  on  the  stage  (see  below, 
%  244)  is  not  sufficient  to  explain  this  reticence. 

Individual  Characters, 


tation  of  his  days  known  as  Euphuism^,  but  it  must  be 
noticed  that  he  is  superior  to  its  worst  aberrations  and 
he  satirizes  them,  not  only  in  Love's  Labour's  Lost,  but 
also  in  many  other  places.  Euphuistic  expressions  are 
generally  put  in  the  mouth  of  some  subordinate  character 
who  has  nothing  to  do  except  to  announce  some  trifling 
incident,  relate  a  little  of  the  circumstances  that  lead  up 
to  the  action  of  the  play,  deliver  a  message  from  a  king, 
etc.  It  is  not  improbable  that  the  company  possessed 
some  actor  who  knew  how  to  make  small  parts  funny  by 
imitating  fashionable  affectation,  and  we  can  imagine 
that  it  was  he  who  acted  Osric  in  Hamlet,  and  by  his 
vocabulary  and  appearance  exposed  himself  to  the  scoffs 
of  the  Danish  prince,  the  Captain  in  Twelfth  Night  I,  sc.  2, 
the  Second  Gentleman  in  Othello  II,  sc.  i,  the  first  Lord 
in  As  You  Like  It  II,  sc.  2  (They  found  the  bed  un- 
treasur'd  of  their  mistris').  But  the  messenger  from 
Antony  in  Julius  CcBsar  (III.  i.  122)  speaks  in  a  totally 
different  strain  and  gives  us  a  sort  of  foretaste  of  Antony's 
eloquence.  And  how  different  again — I  am  speaking 
here  of  subordinate  parts  only  —  are  the  gardeners  in 
Richard  the  Second  (III,  sc.  4)  with  their  characteristic 
application  of  botanical  similes  to  politics  and  vice  versa. 
And  thus  one  might  go  on,  for  no  author  has  shown 
greater  skill  in  adapting  language  to  character. 

219.  A  modern  reader,  however,  is  sure  to  miss  many 
of  the  nuances  that  were  felt  instinctively  by  the  poet's 
contemporaries.  A  great  many  words  have  now  another 
value  than  they  had  then;  in  some  cases  it  is  only  a 
slightly  different  colouring,  but  in  others  the  diversity  is 
greater,  and  only  a  close  study  of  Elizabethan  usage  can 

I  The  various  kinds  of  affected  court  style  have  been  care- 
fully distinguished  by  M.  Basse,  Stijlaffectatie  bij  Shakespeare, 
voorall  uit  het  oogpunt  van  het  Euphuisme  (University  de  Gand 


2  1 6        IX.  Shakespeare  and  the  Language  of  Poetry. 

bring  out  the  exact  value  of  each  word.     A  bonnet  then 
meant  a  man's  cap  or  hat;  Lear  walks  unbonneted.    To 
charm  always  implied  magic  power,  to  make  invulnerable 
by   witchcraft,    to    call   forth   by   spells   etc.;    'charming 
words'  were  magic  words  and  not  simply  delightful  words 
as  in  our  days.    Notorious  might  be  used  in  a  good  sense 
as  'well-known';  censure^  too,  was  a  colourless  word  ('And 
your  name  is  great  In  mouthes  of  wisest  censure'  0th.  II, 
3.   193).     The  same  is  true  of  succeed  and  success,  which 
now  imply  what  Shakespeare  several  times  calls   'good 
success',   whereas  he  also  knows   'bad  success';   cf.    'the 
effects  he  writes  of  succeede  unhappily'  Lear    I.  2.  157. 
Companion  was  often  used  in  a  bad  sense,  lik-e  fellow  now, 
and  inversely  sheer,  which  is  now  used  with  such  words 
as   'folly,   nonsense',   had  kept  the  original   meaning  of 
'pure',  as  in  'thou  sheere,  immaculate,  and  silver  foun- 
taine'   (R  2  V.  3.  61).    Politician  seems  always  to  imply 
intriguing  or  scheming,  and  remorse  generally  means  pity 
or  sympathy.    Accommodate  evidently  did  not  belong  to 
ordinary  language,  but  was  considered  affected;  occupy 
and  activity  were  at  least  half-vulgar,  while  on  the  other 
hand  wag  (vb.)  was  then  free  from  its  present  trivial  or 
ludicrous   associations  ('Untill  my  eielids  will  no  longer 
wag',  Hamlet  V.  i.  290,  see  Dowden's  note  on  this  pas- 
sage).    Assassination  (only  Macbeth  I.  7.  2)  would  then 
call  up  the  memory  of  the  'Assasines,  a  company  of  most 
desperat  and  dangerous   men  among  the  Mahometans' 
(Knolles,    Hist.    Turks    1603)    or    'That   bloudy   sect   of 
Sarazens,  called  Assassini,  who,  without  feare  of  torments, 
undertake  .  .  .  the  murther  of  any  eminent  Prince,  im- 
pugning their  irreligion'  (Speed,   161 1,  quoted  N.  E.  D.) 
220.  Even  adverbs  might  then  have  another  colouring 
from  their  present  signification.    Now-a-days  was  a  vulgar 
word;  it  is  used  by  no  one  in  Shakespeare  except  Bottom, 
the  grave-digger  in  Hamlet,  and  a  fisherman  in  Pericles. 

Value  of  Words,     Bacon. 


The  adverb  eke,  in  the  nineteenth  century  a  poetic  word, 
seems  to  have  been  a  comic  expression;  it  occurs  only- 
three  times  in  Shakespeare  (twice  in  the  Merry  Wives, 
used  by  Pistol  and  the  Host,  once  by  Flute  in  Mids. 
N.  Dr.);  Milton  and  Pope  avoid  the  word.  The  synonym 
also  is  worth  noticing.  Shakespeare  uses  it  only  22  times, 
and  nearly  always  puts  it  in  the  mouth  of  vulgar  or 
affected  persons  (Dogberry  twice  in  Ado,  the  Clown  once 
in  Wint.,  the  Second  Lord  in  As  II.  sc.  2,  the  Second  Lord 
in  Tim.  III.  sc.  6,  the  affected  Captain  in  Tw.  I.  sc.  2; 
the  knight  in  Lear  I.  4.  66  may  belong  here  too ;  further 
Pistol  twice  in  grandiloquent  speeches,  H  4  B  II.  4.  171 
and  V.  3.  145,  and  two  of  Shakespeare's  Welshmen, 
Evans  three  times,  and  Fluellen  twice).  It  is  used  twice 
in  solemn  and  official  speeches  (H  5  I.  2.  yy,  where  Canter- 
bury expounds  lex  Salica,  and  IV.  6.  10),  and  it  is,  there- 
fore, highly  characteristic  that  Falstaff  uses  the  word 
twice  in  his  Euphuistic  impersonation  of  the  king  (H  4 
A  II.  4.  440  and  459)  and  twice  in  similar  speeches  in  the 
Merry  Wives  (V.  i.  24  and  V.  5.  7).^ 

I  The  only  passages  not  accounted  for  above  are  Gent.  III. 
2.  25,  where  the  metre  is  wrong,  Hamlet  V.  2.  402,  where  the 
folios  have  always  instead  of  also,  and  Caes.  II.  i.  329.  —  Shake- 
speare's sparing  use  of  also  would  in  itself  suffice  to  disprove  |  \ 
the  Baconian  theory  if  any  proof  were  needed  beyond  the  evi- 
dence of  history  and  of  psychology.  For  in  Bacon,  alsds  abound, 
and  I  have  counted  on  four  successive  small  pages  of  Moore 
Smith's  edition  of  the  New  Atlantis  22  instances,  exactly  as 
many  as  are  found  in  the  whole  of  Shakespeare.  Might  and 
^nought  seem  to  be  nearly  equally  frequent  in  Bacon,  but  mought 
is  found  only  once  in  Shakespeare ,  in  the  third  part  of  Henry 
VI,  a  play  which  many  competent  judges  are  inclined  not  to 
ascribe  to  Shakespeare  at  all.  At  any  rate,  this  one  instance 
in  one  of  his  earliest  works  weighs  nothing  as  against  the  thou- 
sands of  times  might  is  found.  Shakespeare  uses  among  and 
amoitgst  indiscriminately.  Bacon  nearly  always  uses  amongst. 
aeon  frequently  employs  the  conjunction  whereas,  which  is 
not   found    at   all   in   the   undoubtedly  genuine   Shakespearian 

K  sa 

2  1 8        IX.  Shakespeare  and  the  Language  of  Poetry. 

221.  Shylock  is  one  of  Shakespeare's  most  interesting 
creations,  even  from  the  point  of  view  of  language.  Al- 
though Sidney  Lee  has  shown  that  there  were  Jews  in 
England  in  those  times  and  that,  consequently,  Shake- 
speare need  not  have  gone  outside  his  own  country  in 
order  to  see  models  for  Shylock,  the  number  of  Jews 
cannot  have  been  sufficient  for  his  hearers  to  be  very 
familiar  with  the  Jewish  type,  and  no  Anglo-Jewish  dia- 
lect or  mode  of  speech  had  developed  which  Shakespeare 
could  put  into  Shylock's  mouth  and  so  make  him  at  once 
recognizable  for  what  he  was.  I  have  not,  indeed,  been 
able  to  discover  a  single  trait  in  Shylock's  language  that 
can  be  called  distinctly  Jewish.  And  yet  Shakespeare  has 
succeeded  in  creating  for  Shylock  a  language  different 
from  that  of  anybody  else.  Shylock  has  his  Old  Testa- 
ment at  his  fingers'  ends,  he  defends  his  own  way  of 
making  money  breed  by  a  reference  to  Jacob's  thrift  in 
breeding  parti-coloured  lambs,  he  swears  by  Jacob's  staff 
and  by  our  holy  sabbath,  and  he  calls  Lancelot  'that 
foole  of  Hagars  off-spring'.^  We  have  an  interesting  bit 
of  Jewish  figurative  language  in  'my  houses  eares,  I 
meane  my  casements'  (II.  5.  34).  Shylock  uses  some 
biblical  words  which  do  not  occur  elsewhere  in  Shake- 
speare: pilled  (The  skilful  shepheard  pil'd  me  certain 
wands,  cf.  Genesis  XXX.  37),  synagogue,  Nazarite,  and 
publican.  But  more  often  Shylock  is  characterized  by 
being  made  to  use  words  or  constructions  a  little  different 
from  the  accepted  use  of  Shakespeare's  time.^  He  dis- 
plays, etc.  —  Since  this  was  written,  the  whole  subject  has 
been  investigated  by  N,  Begholm  {Bacon  og  Shakespeare,  Copen- 
hagen 1906),  who  has  succeeded  in  pointing  out  an  astonishing 
number  of  discrepancies  between  the  two  authors. 

1  Contrast  with  this  trait  the  fondness  for  classical  allusions 
found  in  Marlowe's  Barrabas. 

2  He  says  Abra?n,  but  Abraham  is  the  only  form  found  in 
the  rest  of  Shakespeare's  works. 

Shylock.  2  [  9 

likes  the  word  interest  and  prefers  calling  it  advantage 
or  thrift  (my  well-worne  thrift,  which  he  cals  interrest, 
I.  3.  52),  and  instead  of  usury  he  says  usance.  Furness 
quotes  Wylson  On  Usurye  1572,  p.  32  'usurie  and  double 
usurie,  the  merchants  termyng  it  usance  and  double 
usance,  by  a  more  clenlie  name'  —  this  word  thus  ranks 
in  the  same  category  as  dashed  or  d-d  for  damned:  instead 
of  pronouncing  an  objectionable  word  in  full  one  begins 
as  if  one  were  about  to  pronounce  it  and  then  shunts  off 
on  another  track  (see  other  examples  below,  §  244). 
Shylock  uses  the  plural  moneys,  which  is  very  rare  in 
Shakespeare,  he  says  an  equal  pound  for  'exact',  rheum 
(rume)  for  'saliva',  estimable  for  'valuable',  fulsome  for 
'rank'  (the  only  instance  of  that  signification  discovered 
by  the  editors  of  the  N.  E.  D.) ;  he  alone  uses  the  words 
eaneling  and  misbeliever  and  the  rare  verb  to  bane.  His 
syntax  is  peculiar:  we  trifle  time;  rend  out,  where  Shake- 
speare has  elsewhere  only  rend;  I  have  no  mind  of  feasting 
forth  to-night  (always  mind  to);  and  so  following,  where 
and  so  forth  is  the  regular  Shakespearian  phrase.  I  have 
counted  some  forty  such  deviations  from  Shakespeare's 
ordinary  language  and  cannot  dismiss  the  thought  that 
Shakespeare  made  Shylock's  language  peculiar  on  pur- 
pose, just  as  he  makes  Caliban,  and  the  witches  in  Macbeth, 
use  certain  words  and  expressions  used  by  none  other 
of  his  characters  in  order  to  stamp  them  as  beings  out 
of  the  common  sort. 

222.  Shakespeare's  vocabulary  was  not  the  same  in 
all  periods  of  his  life.  I  have  counted  between  two  and 
three  hundred  words  which  he  used  in  his  youth,  but  not 
later,  while  the  number  of  words  peculiar  to  his  last  period 
is  much  smaller.  Sarrazin^  mentions  as  characteristic  of 
his  first  period  a  predilection  for  picturesque  adjectives 

I   Shakespeare- J ahrbuch  XXXIII,   122. 

2  20        1^-  Shakespeare  and  the  Language  of  Poetry. 

that  appeal  immediately  to  the  outward  senses  (bright, 
brittle,  fragrant,  pitchy,  snow-white),  while  his  later  plays 
are  said  to  contain  more  adjectives  of  psychological  im- 
portance. But  even  apart  from  the  fact  that  some  of  the 
adjectives  instanced  are  really  found  in  later  plays  {bright 
in  Caes.,  Ant.,  0th.,  Cymb.,  Wint.  T.,  etc.),  this  statement 
would  account  for  only  a  small  part  of  the  divergencies. 
Probably  no  single  explanation  can  account  for  them  all, 
not  even  that  of  the  natural  buoyancy  of  youth  and  the 
comparative  austerity  of  a  later  age.  It  is  noteworthy 
that  in  some  instances  he  ridicules  in  later  plays  words 
used  quite  seriously  in  earlier  ones.  Thus  beautify,  which 
is  found  in  Lucrece,  Henry  VI  B,  Titus  Andr.,  Two 
Gentlemen,  and  Romeo,  is  severely  criticized  by  Polonius 
when  he  hears  it  in  Hamlet's  letter :  'That's  an  ill  phrase, 
a  vilde  phrase,  beautified  is  a  vilde  phrase'.  Similarly 
cranny,  which  Shakespeare  used  in  Lucrece  (twice)  and 
in  the  Comedy  of  Errors,  is  not  found  in  any  play  written 
later  than  Mids  N.  D.,  where  Shakespeare  takes  leave  of 
the  word  by  turning  it  to  ridicule  in  the  mouth  of  Bottom 
and  in  the  artisans'  comedy.  The  fate  of  foeman,  aggra- 
vate, and  homicide  is  nearly  the  same.  Perhaps  some  of 
the  words  avoided  in  later  life  were  provinciahsms  (thus 
possibly  pebblestone,  shore  in  the  sense  of  'bank  of  a  river', 
wood  'mad',  forefather  'ancestor',  the  pronunciation  of 
marriage  and  of  Henry  in  three  syllables).  In  the  first 
period  Shakespeare  used  perverse  with  the  unusual  signi- 
fication 'cold,  unfriendly,  averse  to  love',  later  he  avoids 
the  word  altogether.  In  such  instances  he  may  have 
been  criticized  by  his  contemporaries  (we  know  from  the 
Poetaster  how  severe  Ben  Jonson  was  in  these  matters), 
and  that  may  have  made  him  avoid  the  objectionable 
words  altogether. 

223.  One  of  the  most  characteristic  features  of  Shake- 
speare's   use   of   the    English   language    is   his   boldness. 

Different  Periods.     Boldness.  2  2  i 

His  boldji^s,?  <^^  mftf:aphor  has  often  been  pointed  out  in 
books  of  literary  criticism,  and  the  boldness  of  his  sen- 
tence structure,  especially  in  his  last  period,  is  so  obvious 
that  no  instances  need  be  adduced  here.  He  does  not 
always  care  for  grammatical  parallelism,  witness  such  a 
sentence  as  'A  thought  which,  quarter'd,  hath  but  one 
part  wisedom  And  ever  three  parts  coward'  (Haml.  IV. 
4.  42).  He  does  not  always  place  the  words  where  they 
would  seem  properly  to  belong,  as  in  'we  send.  To  know 
what  willing  ransome  he  will  give'  for  'what  ransom  he 
will  willingly  give'  (H  5  HI.  5.  63),  'dismist  me  Thus  with 
his  speechlesse  hand'  (Cor.  V.  I.  68),  'the  whole  eare  of 
Denmarke  Is  by  a  forged  processe  of  my  death  Rankly 
abus'd'  (the  ear  of  all  Denmark,  Haml.  I.  5.  36),  'lovers 
absent  howres'  (the  hours  when  lovers  are  absent,  0th. 
III.  4,  174)  etc.  He  is  not  afraid  of  writing  'wanted  lesse 
impudence'  for  'had  less  impudence'  or  'wanted  impu- 
dence more'  (Wint.  III.  2.  57)  and  'a  begger  without  lesse 
quality'  (Cymb.  I.  4.  23),  nor  of  mixing  his  negatives  as 
he  does  in  many  other  passages.^  Al.  Schmidt,  who 
collects  many  instances  of  such  negligence,  rightly  re- 
.  marks:  'Had  he  taken  the  pains  of  revising  and  preparing 
I  his  plays  for  the  press,  he  would  perhaps  have  corrected 
all  the  quoted  passages.  But  he  did  not  write  them  to  be 
read  and  dwelt  on  by  the  eye,  but  to  be  heard  by  a  sym- 
pathetic audience.  And  much  that  would  blemish  the 
language  of  a  logician,  may  well  become  a  dramatic  poet 
or  an  orator'. ^  There  is  an  excellent  paper  by  C.  Alphonso 
Smith  in  the  Englische  Studien,  vol.  XXX,  on  'The  Chief 
Difference  between  the  First  and  Second  Folios  of  Shake- 
speare', in  which  he  shows  that  'the  supreme  syntactic 
value  of  Shakespeare's  work  as  represented  in  the  First 

1  Besides  using  such  double  negatives  as  were  regular  in  all 
the  older  periods  of  the  language  {nor  never,  etc.) 

2  Shakespeare -Lexicon,  p.  1420. 

2  22        IX.  Shakespeare  and  the  Language  of  Poetry. 

Folio  is  that  it  shows  us  the  English  language  unfettered 
/  by  bookish  impositions.  Shakespeare's  syntax  was  that 
j  of  the  speaker,  not  that  of  the  essayist;  for  the  drama 
\  represents  the  unstudied  utterance  of  people  under  all 
|!  kinds  and  degrees  of  emotion,  ennui,  pain,  and  passion. 
I  Its  syntax,  to  be  truly  representative,  must  be  familiar, 
(^conversational,  spontaneous;  not  studied  and  formal.' 
But  'the  Second  Folio  is  of  unique  service  and  significance 
in  its  attempts  to  render  more  'correct'  and  bookish  the 
unfettered  syntax  of  the  First.  The  First  Folio  is  to  the 
Second  as  spoken  language  is  to  written  language'.  The 
'bad  grammar'  of  the  First  Folio  (1623)  may  not  always 
be  due  to  Shakespeare  himself,  but  at  any  rate  we  have  in 
that  edition  more  of  his  own  language  than  in  the  'cor- 
^  rectness'  of  the  Second  Folio  (1632). 

224.  Shakespeare's  boldness  with  regard  to  language 
is  less  conspicuous,  though  no  less  real,  in  the  instances 
I  shall  now  mention.  In  turning  over  the  pages  of  the 
New  English  Dictionary,  where  every  pains  has  been 
taken  to  ascertain  the  earliest  occurrence  of  each  word 
and  of  each  signification,  one  is  struck  by  the  frequency 
with  which  Shakespeare's  name  is  found  affixed  to  the 
earliest  quotation  for  words  or  meanings.  In  many  cases 
this  is  no  doubt  due  to  the  fact  that  Shakespeare's  vocab- 
ulary has  been  registered  with  greater  care  in  Concord- 
ances and  in  Al.  Schmidt's  invaluable  Shakespeare- 
Lexicon  than  that  of  any  other  author,  so  that  his  w'ords 
cannot  escape  notice,  while  the  same  words  may  occur 
unnoticed  in  the  pages  of  many  an  earlier  author.  But 
even  if  future  research  may  somewhat  reduce  the  number 
of  these  words,  the  fact  will  remain  that  Shakespeare 
was  in  no  way  afraid  of  adopting  into  his  immortal 
pages  a  great  many  words  which  were  new  in  his  times, 
whether  absolutely  new  or  new  only  to  the  written  lan- 
guage, while  living  colloquially  on  the  lips  of  the  people.  \ 


New  Words. 


My  list  includes  the  following  words:  aslant  as  a  pre- 
position, assassination  (see  above),  barefaced,  beguile  in 
two  of  the  significations  now  most  current  (win  the  at- 
tention by  wiling  means,  and  charm  away),  the  plural 
brothers  (found  also  in  Layamon's  Brut,  but  seemingly 
not  between  that  and  Shakespeare's  Titus  Andron.  and 
Marlowe's  T amburlaine) ,  call  'to  pay  a  short  visit',  court- 
ship, dwindle,  enthrone  (earlier  enthronize),  eventful,  ex- 
cellent in  the  current  sense  'extremely  good',  fount 
'spring',  fretful,  get  intransitive  with  an  adjective,  'be- 
come' (only  in  'get  clear'),  /  have  got  for  'I  have',  gust, 
hint,  hurry,  indistinguishable,  latest,  laughable,  leap-frog, 
loggerhead  and  loggerheaded,  lonely  (but  Sidney  has  lone- 
liness some  years  before  Shakespeare  began  to  write), 
lower  verb,  perusal,  primy.  Further  the  following  verbs 
(formed  from  nouns  that  are  found  before  Shakespeare's 
time) :  bound,  hand,  jade,  and  nouns  (formed  from  already 
existing  verbs) :  control,  dawn,  dress,  hatch,  import,  indent. 
Among  other  words  which  were  certainly  or  probably 
new  when  Shakespeare  used  them,  may  be  mentioned 
acceptance,  gull  'dupe',  rely,  scarcely,  and  summit.  I  shall 
give  below  (§  228)  a  list  of  words  and  expressions  the 
existence  of  which  in  the  English  language  is  due  to  Shake- 
speare. The  words  here  given  would  probably  have  found 
their  way  mto  the  language  even  had  Shakespeare  never 
written  a  line,  though  he  may  have  accelerated  the  date 
of  their  acceptance.  But  at  any  rate  they  show  that  he 
was  exempt  from  that  narrowness  which  often  makes 
authors  shy  of  using  new  or  colloquial  words  in  the  higher 
literary  style.  Let  me  add  another  remark  apropos  of  a 
list  of  hard  words  needing  an  explanation  which  is  found 
in  Cockeram's  Dictionarie  (1623).  Dr.  Murray  writes^: 
*We  are  surprised  to  find  among  these  hard  words  abandon, 

I  The  Evolutio7i  of  English  Lexicography.    Romanes  Lecture, 
Oxford  and  London   1900,  p.  29. 

2  24        ^^'  Shakespeare  and  the  Language  of  Poetry, 

abhorre,  abrupt,  absurd,  action,  activitie,  and  actresse,  ex- 
plained as  'a  woman  doer',  for  the  stage  actress  had  not 
yet  appeared'.  Now,  with  the  exception  of  the  last  one, 
all  these  words  are  found  in  Shakespeare's  plays. 

225.  Closely  connected  with  this  trait  in  Shakespeare's 
language  is  the  proximity  of  his  poetical  diction  to  his 
ordinary  prose.  He  uses  very  few  'poetical'  words  or 
forms.  He  does  not  rely  for  his  highest  flights  on  the 
use  of  words  and  grammatical  forms  not  used  elsewhere, 
but  knows  how  to  achieve  the  finest  effects  of  imagination 
without  stepping  outside  his  ordinary  vocabulary  and 
grammar.  It  must  be  remembered  that  when  he  uses 
thou  and  thee,  'tis,  e'en,  ne'er,  howe'er,  mine  eyes,  etc.,  or 
when  he  construes  negative  and  interrogative  verbs 
without  do,  all  these  things  which  are  now  parts  of  the 
conventional  language  of  poetry,  were  everyday  collo- 
quialisms in  the  Elizabethan  period.  It  is  true  that  there 
are  certain  words  and  forms  which  he  never  uses  except 
in  poetry,  but  their  number  is  extremely  small.  I  do  not 
know""^of  any  besides  host  'army',  vale,  sire,  and  morn.  As 
for  the  synonym  morrow,  apart  from  its  use  in  the  sense 
of  'next  day'  and  in  the  salutation  good  morrow,  which 
was  then  colloquial,  it  occurs  only  four'^times,  and  only 
in  rime.  There  are  some  verb  forms  which  only  occur  in 
rime,  but  the  number  of  occasions  on  which  Shakespeare 
was  thus  led  to  deviate  from  his  usual  grammar  is  very 
small:  begun  (past  tense)  8  times,  flee  once  (the  usual 
present  is  fly),  gat  once  (in  the  probably  spurious  Pericles), 
sain  once,  sang  once,  shore  participle  once,  strown  once 
(the  usual  form  is  strewed),  swore  participle  once  —  fifteen 
instances  in  all,  to  which  must  be  added  eleven  instances 
of  the  plural  eyen.  Rhythmical  reasons  seem  to  make  do 
more  frequent  in  Shakespeare's  verse  than  in  his  prose\ 

I  W.Franz,  Shakespeare-Grammatik,  2nd  ed.478.  His  statistics 
might  be  more  comprehensive. 

Poetical   Diction. 


and  rhythm  and  rime  sometimes  make  him  place  a  pre- 
position after  instead  of  before  the  noun  [e.  g.  go  the  fools 
among.^)  All  these  things  are  rare  enough  to  justify  the 
statement  that  a  peculiar  poetical  diction  is  practically 
non-existent  in  Shakespeare. 

226.  In  the  Old  English  period  the  language  of  poetry 
differed,  as  we  have  seen  (cf.  §  53),  very  considerably 
from  the  language  of  ordinary  prose.  The  old  poetical 
language  was  completely  forgotten  a  few  centuries  after 
the  Norman  Conquest,  and  a  new  one  did  not  develop  in 
the  Middle  English  period,  though  there  were  certain 
conventional  tricks  used  by  many  poets,  such  as  those 
ridiculed  in  Chaucer's  Sir  Thopas.  Chaucer  himself  had 
not  two  distinct  forms  of  language,  one  for  verse  and  the 
other  for  prose,  apart  from  those  unavoidable  smaller 
changes  which  rhythm  and  rime  are  always  apt  to  bring 
about.  We  have  now  seen  that  the  same  is  true  of  Shake- 
speare; but  in  the  nineteenth  century  we  find  a  great 
many  words  and  forms  of  words  which  are  scarcely  ever 
used  outside  of  poetry.  This,  then,  is  not  a  survival  of 
an  old  state  of  things,  but  a  comparatively  recent  phenom- 
enon, whose  causes  are  well  worth  investigating.  At 
first  it  might  be  thought  that  the  regard  for  sonority 
and  beauty  of  sound  would  be  the  chief,  or  one  of  the 
chief  agents  in  the  creation  of  a  special  poetical  dialect. 
But  very  often  poetical  forms  are,  on  the  contrary,  less 
euphonious  than  everyday  forms;  compare  for  example 
break' st  thou  with  do  you  break.  Those  who  imagine  that 
gat  sounds  better  than  got  will  scarcely  admit  that  spat 
or  gnat  sounds  better  than  spot  or  not:  non-phonetic 
associations  are  often  more  powerful  than  the  mere  sounds. 

227.  More  frequently  it  is  the  desire  to  leave  the  beaten 
track  that  leads  to  the  preference  of  certain  words  in 

I  Franz,  p.  427. 

Jespbrsbn:  English,    and  ed.  1 5 

2  26        IX.  Shakespeare  and  the  Language  of  Poetry. 

poetry.  Words  that  are  too  well  known  and  too  often 
used  do  not  call  up  such  vivid  images  as  words  less 
familiar.  This  is  one  of  the  reasons  which  impel  poets  to 
use  archaic  words;  they  are  'new'  just  on  account  of  their 
being  old,  and  yet  they  are  not  so  utterly  unknown  as 
to  be  unintelligible.  Besides  they  will  often  call  up  the 
memory  of  some  old  or  venerable  work  in  which  the 
reader  has  met  with  them  before,  and  thus  they  at  once 
secure  the  reader's  sympathy.  If,  then,  the  poetical 
language  of  the  nineteenth  century  contains  a  great 
many  archaisms,  the  question  naturally  presents  itself, 
from  what  author  or  authors  do  most  of  them  proceed? 
And  many  people  who  know  the  preeminent  position  of 
Shakespeare  in  EngHsh  literature  will  probably  be  sur- 
prised to  hear  that  his  is  not  the  greatest  influence  on 
English  poetic  diction. 

228.  Among  words  and  phrases  due  to  reminiscences 
of  Shakespeare  may  be  mentioned  the  following:  antre 
(Keats,  Meredith),  atomy  in  the  sense  'atom,  tiny  being', 
beetle  (the  dreadfull  summit  of  the  cliffe.  That  beetles  o'er 
his  base  into  the  sea),  it  beggars  all  description,  broad- 
blown,  charactery  (Keats,  Browning),  coign  of  vantage 
(coign  is  another  spelling  of  coin  'corner'),  cudgel  one's 
brain(s),  daff  the  world  aside,  eager  'cold'  (a  nipping  and 
an  eager  ayre),  eld  (superstitious  eld),  nine  farrow,  fitful 
(Lifes  fitfull  fever),  forcible  feeble,  a  foregone  conclusion, 
forgetive  (Falstaff;  'of  uncertain  formation  and  meaning. 
Commonly  taken  as  a  derivation  of  forge  v.,  and  hence 
used  by  writers  of  the  19th  c.  for:  apt  at  forging,  in- 
ventive, creative'  N.  E.  D.),  a  forthright  (rare),  gaingiving 
(Coleridge),  gouts  of  blood,  gravelblind,  head  and  front 
('A  Shakesperian  phrase,  orig.  app.  denoting  'summit, 
height,  highest  extent  or  pitch';  sometimes  used  by 
modern  writers  in  other  senses'.  N.  E.  D.),  hoist  with 
his  own  petard,  lush  (in  the  sense  'luxuriant  in  growth'), 

Words  from  Shakespeare.  2  27 

in  my  mind's  eye,  the  pink  (of  perfection,  in  Shakespeare 
only  'I  am  the  very  pinck  of  curtesie';  George  Eliot  has 
'Her  kitchen  always  looked  the  pink  of  cleanliness',  and 
Stevenson  'he  had  been  the  pink  of  good  behaviour'), 
silken  dalliance,  single  blessedness,  that  way  madness  lies 
('Too  kind  !  Insipidity  lay  that  way',  Mrs.  Humphrey 
Ward),  weird.  The  last  word  is  interesting;  originally  it 
is  a  noun  and  means  'destiny,  fate';  the  three  weird 
sisters  means  the  fate  sisters  or  Norns.  Shakespeare  found 
this  expression  in  Holinshed  and  used  it  in  speaking  of 
the  witches  in  Macbeth,  and  only  there.  From  that  play 
it  entered  into  the  ordinary  language,  but  without  being 
properly  understood.  It  is  now  used  as  an  adjective  and 
generally  taken  to  mean  'mystic,  mysterious,  unearthly'. 
Another  word  that  is  often  misunderstood  is  bourne  from 
Hamlet  (The  undiscovered  countrey,  from  whose  borne 
No  traveller  returnes);  it  means  'limit',  but  Keats  and 
others  use  it  in  the  sense  'realm,  domain'  (In  water,  fiery 
realm,  and  airy  bourne;  quoted  N.  E.  D.).  There  are  two 
things  worth  noting  in  this  list.  First,  that  it  includes  so 
many  words  of  vague  or  indefinite  meaning,  which  were 
not  perhaps  even  clearly  understood  by  the  author  him- 
self. This  explains  the  fact  that  some  of  them  have 
apparently  been  used  in  modern  times  in  a  different  sense 
from  that  intended  by  Shakespeare.  Second,  that  the 
re-employment  of  these  words  nearly  always  dates  from 
the  nineteenth  century  and  that  the  present  currency 
of  some  of  them  is  due  just  as  much  to  Sir  Walter  Scott 
or  Keats  as  to  the  original  author.  To  cudgel  one's  brains 
is  now  more  of  a  literary  phrase  than  when  Shakespeare 
put  it  in  the  mouth  of  the  gravedigger  (Hamlet  V.  I.  63), 
evidently  meaning  it  to  be  a  rude  or  vulgar  expression. 
Inversely,  single  blessedness  is  now  generally  used  with 
an  ironical  or  humorous  tinge  which  it  certainly  had  not 
in  Shakespeare  (Mids.  I.  i.  78). 


2  28         IX.  Shakespeare  and  the  Language  of  Poetry, 

229.  It  must  be  noted  also  that  none  of  the  words  thus 
traceable  to  Shakespeare  belong  now  to  what  might  be 
called  the  technical  language  of  poetry.  Modern  archaiz- 
ing poetry  owes  its  vocabulary  more  to  Edmund  Spenser 
than  to  any  other  poet.  Pope  and  his  contemporaries 
made  a  very  sparing  use  of  archaisms,  but  when  poets 
in  the  middle  of  the  eighteenth  century  turned  from  his 
rationalistic  and  matter-of-fact  poetry  and  were  eager  to 
take  their  romantic  flight  away  from  everyday  realities, 
Spenser  became  the  poet  of  their  heart,  and  they  adopted 
a  great  many  of  his  words  which  had  long  been  forgotten. 
Their  success  was  so  great  that  many  words  which  they 
had  to  explain  to  their  readers  are  now  perfectly  familiar 
to  every  educated  man  and  woman.  Gilbert  West,  in  his 
work  'On  the  Abuse  of  Travelling,  in  imitation  of  Spenser' 
(1739)  had  to  explain  in  footnotes  such  words  as  sooth, 
guise,  hardiment,  Elfin,  prowess,  wend,  hight,  dight,  para- 
mours, behests,  caitiffs'^.  William  Thompson,  in  his  'Hymn 
to  May'  (1740?)  explains  certes  surely,  certainly,  ne  nor, 
erst  formerly,  long  ago,  undaz'd  undazzled,  sheen  biight- 
ness,  shining,  been  are,  dispredden  spread,  meed  prize,  ne 
recks  nor  is  concerned,  affray  affright,  featly  nimbly, 
defftly  finely,  glenne  a  country  borough,  eld  old  age,  lusty- 
head  vigour,  algate  ever,  harrow  destroy,  carl  clown,  perdie 
an  old  word  for  asserting  anything,  livelood  liveliness, 
albe  altho',  scant  scarcely,  bedight  adorned. 

230.  In  later  times,  Coleridge,  Scott,  Keats,  Tennyson, 
William  Morris,  and  Swinburne  must  be  mentioned  as 
those  poets  who  have  contributed  most  to  the  revival  of 
old  words.  Coleridge  in  the  first  edition  of  the  Ancient 
Mariner  used  so  many  archaisms  in  spelling,  etc.,  that 
he  had  afterwards  to  reduce  the  number  in  order  to  make 
his  poem  more  palatable  to  the  reading  public.     Some- 

I  W.  L.  Phelps,  Beginnings  of  the  Romantic  Movement,  p.  63. 

Archaisms.  229 

times  pseudo-2intique  formations  have  been  introduced; 
anigh,  for  instance,  which  is  frequent  in  Morris,  is  not  an 
old  word,  and  idlesse  is  a  false  formation  after  the  legiti- 
mate old  noblesse  and  humblesse  (O.  Fr,  noblesse,  hum- 
blesse).  But  on  the  whole,  many  good  words  have  been 
recovered  from  oblivion,  and  some  of  them  will 
doubtless  find  their  way  into  the  language  of  ordinary 
conversation,  while  others  will  continue  their  life  in 
the  regions  of  higher  poetry  and  eloquence.  On  the 
other  hand ,  many  pages  in  the  works  of  Shakespeare, 
of  Shelley,  and  of  Tennyson  show  us  that  it  is  possible 
for  a  poet  to  reach  the  highest  flights  of  eloquent 
poetry  without  resorting  to  many  of  the  conventionally 
poetical  terms. 

231.  As  for  the  technical  grammar  of  modern  poetry, 
the  influence  of  Shakespeare  is  not  very  strong,  in  fact 
not  so  strong  as  that  of  the  Authorized  Version  of  the 
Bible.  The  revival  of  th  in  the  third  person  singular  was 
due  to  the  Bible,  as  we  have  seen  above  (§  196)^.  Gat  is 
a  frequent  form  in  the  Bible,  while  Shakespeare's  ordinary 
past  of  the  verb  to  get  is  got;  the  solitary  instance  of  gat 
(see  §  225)  only  serves  to  confirm  the  rule^.  The  past 
tense  of  cleave  'to  sever'  in  Shakespeare  is  clove  or  cleft; 
clave  does  not  occur  in  his  writings  at  all,  but  is  the  only 
biblical  past  of  this  verb.     Brake  is  the  only  preterite  of 

1  When  modern  clergymen  in  reading  the  Bible  pronounce 
laved,  danced,  etc.,  they  are  reproducing  a  language  about  two 
hundred  years  earlier  than  the  Authorized  Version. 

2  Gai  is  the  only  form  of  this  verb  admitted  by  some  modern 
poets,  who  avoid  get  and  got  altogether.  Shakespeare  uses  the 
verb  hundreds  of  times.  Milton  makes  a  very  sparing  use  of 
the  verb  (which  he  inflects  get  got  got,  never  gat  in  the  past 
or  gotten  in  the  participle);  all  the  forms  of  the  verb  only  occur 
1 9 times  in  his  poetical  works,  while,  for  instance,  give  occurs 
168 times  and  receive  73  times.  The  verb  is  rare  in  Pope  too. 
Why  is  this  verb  tabooed  in  this  way? 

230        IX.  Shakespeare  and  the  Language  of  Poetry. 

break  found  in  the  Bible;  in  Shakespeare  brake  is  rarer 
than  broke;  Milton  and  Pope  have  only  broke;  Tennyson, 
Morris,  and  Swinburne  prefer  brake. 
/i  232.  But  on  the  whole,  modern  poets  do  not  take  their 
grammar  from  any  one  old  author  or  book,  but  are  apt 
to  use  any  deviation  from  the  ordinary  grammar  they  can 
lay  hold  of  anywhere.  And  thus  it  has  come  to  pass  in 
the  nineteenth  century  that  while  the  languages  of  other 
civilized  nations  have  the  same  grammar  for  poetry  as 
for  prose,  although  retaining  here  and  there  a  few  archaic 
forms  of  verbs,  etc.,  in  English  a  wide  gulf  separates  the 
grammar  of  poetry  from  that  of  ordinary  life.  The  pro- 
noun for  the  second  person  is  in  prose  you  for  both  cases 
in  both  numbers,  while  in  many  works  of  poetry^it  is  thou 
and  thee  for  the  singular,  ye  for  the  plural  (with  here  and 
there  a  rare  you)]  the  poetical  possessives  thy  and  thine 
never  occur  in  everyday  speech.  The  usual  distinction 
between  my  and  mine  does  not  always  obtain  in  poetry, 
where  it  is  thought  refined  to  write  mine  ears,  etc.  For 
they  sat  down  the  poetical  form  is  they  sate  them  down;  for 
it's  poets  write  'tis,  and  for  whatever  either  whatso  or 
whatsoever  (or  whate'er),  for  does  not  mend  they  often 
write  mends  not,  etc.  Sometimes  they  gain  the  advantage 
of  having  at  will  one  syllable  more  or  less  than  common 
people :  taketh  for  takes,  thou  takest  for  you  take,  movkd  for 
moved,  o'er  for  over,  etc.;  compare  also  morn  for  morning. 
But  in  other  cases  the  only  thing  gained  is  the  impression, 
produced  by  uncommon  forms,  that  we  are  in  a  sphere 
different  from  or  raised  above  ordinary  realities.  As  a 
matter  of  course,  this  impression  is  weakened  in  pro- 
portion as  the  deviations  become  the  common  property 
of  any  rimer,  when  a  reaction  will  probably  set  in  in 
favour  of  more  natural  forms.  The  history  of  some  of  the 
poetical  forms  is  rather  curious :  howe'er,  e'er,  o'er,  e'en  were 
at  first  vulgar  or  familiar  forms,  used  in  daily  talk.    Then 

Grammar  of  Poetry.  2  3  I 

poets  began  to  spell  these  words  in  the  abbreviated 
fashion  whenever  they  wanted  their  readers  to  pronounce 
them  in  that  way,  while  prose  writers,  unconcerned  about 
the  pronunciation  given  to  their  words,  retained  the  full 
forms  in  spelling.  The  next  step  was  that  the  short  forms 
were  branded  as  vulgar  by  schoolmasters  with  so  great  a 
success  that  they  disappeared  from  ordinary  conver- 
sation while  they  were  still  retained  in  poetry.  And  now 
they  are  distinctly  poetic  and  as  such  above  the  reach  of 
common  mortals. 

233.  Among  the  elements  of  ordinary  language,  some 
can  be  traced  back  to  individual  authors.  Besides  those 
already  mentioned  I  shall  cite  only  a  few.  Surround 
originally  meant  to  overflow  (Fr.  sur-onder,  Lat.  super- 
undare);  but  according  to  Skeat,  both  the  modern  sig- 
nification, which  implies  an  erroneous  reference  to  round, 
and  the  currency  of  the  word  are  due  to  Milton.  The  soft 
impeachment  is  one  of  Mrs.  Malapropos  expressions  (in 
Sheridans's  Rivals,  act  V,  sc.  3).  Henchman  was  made 
generally  known  by  Scott,  and  to  croon  by  Burns.  Burke 
originated  the  expression  'the  Great  Unwashed.'  A  certain 
number  of  proper  names  in  works  of  literature  have  been 
popular  enough  to  pass  into  ordinary  language  as  appela- 
tives^,  as  for  instance  pander  or  pandar  from  Chaucer's 
Troilus  and  Criseyde,  Abigail  'a  servant-girl'  from  Beau- 
mont and  Fletcher's  Scornful  Lady,  Mrs.  Grundy  as  a 
personification  of  middle-class  ideas  of  propriety  from 
Morton's  Speed  the  Plough,  Paul  Pry  'a  meddlesome  busy- 
body' from  Poole's  comedy  of  that  name,  Sarah  Gamp 
'sick  nurse  of  the  old-fashioned  type'  and  'big  umbrella' 
from  Dickens's  Martin  Chuzzlewit,   Pecksniff  'hypocrite' 


I  Aronstein,  Englische  Studien  XXV,  p.  245  ff.,  Josef  Rei- 
nius ,  On  Transferred  Appellations  of  Human  Beings,  Goteborg 
1903,  p.  44ff 

232         IX.  Shakespeare  and  the  Language  of  Poetry. 

from  the  same  novel,  Sherlock  Holmes  'acute  detective' 
from  Conan  Doyle's  stories. 

234.  Ordinary  language  sometimes  makes  use  of  the 
same  instruments  as  poetry.  Above  (§  56)  we  have  seen 
a  number  of  alliterative  formulas;  here  I  shall  give  some 
instances  of  riming  locutions :  highways  and  byways,  town 
and  gown,  it  will  neither  make  nor  break  me  (cf.  the 
alliterative  make  .  .  .  mar),  fairly  and  squarely,  toiling 
and  moiling,  as  snug  as  a  bug  in  a  rug  (Kipling),  rough 
and  gruff,  'I  mean  to  take  that  girl  —  snatch  or  catch' 
(Meredith),  moans  and  groans^.  Compare  also  such 
popular  words  as  handy-dandy,  hanky-panky,  namby- 
pamby,  hurly-burly,  hurdy-gurdy,  hugger-mugger,  hocus 
pocus,  hoity  toity  or  highly  tighty,  higgledy-piggledy  or 
higglety-pigglety,  hickery- pickery.  Hotchpot  (from  French 
hocher  'shake  together'  and  pot)  was  made  hotchpotch  for 
the  sake  of  the  rime;  then  the  final  tch  was  changed  into 
dge  (cf.  knowledge  from  knowleche) :  *hotchpodge,  and  the 
rime  was  re-established:  hodgepodge. 

235.  Rhythm  undoubtedly  plays  a  great  part  in  ord- 
'inary  language,  apart  from  poetry  and  artistic  (or  arti- 
ficial) prose.  It  may  not  always  be  easy  to  demonstrate 
this;  but  in  combinations  of  a  monosyllable  and  a  di- 
syllabic by  means  of  and  the  usual  practice  is  to  place 
the  short  word  first,  because  the  rhythm  then  becomes 
the  regular  'aa  'aa  instead  of  'aaa  'a  ('before  the  a  denotes 
the  strongly  stressed  syllable).  Thus  we  say  'bread  and 
butter',  not  'butter  and  bread';  further:  bread  and  water, 
milk  und  water,  cup  and  saucer,  wind  and  weather,  head 
and  shoulders,  by  fits  and  snatches,  from  top  to  bottom, 

I  As  Old  English  has  mcenan  'moan',  the  modem  verb  may 
have  derived  its  vowel  from  the  frequent  collocation  with  groan, 
OE.  granian.  Square  may  owe  one  of  its  significations  to  the 
collocation  with  fair. 

Rime  and  Rhythm.  233 

rough  and  ready,  rough  and  tumble,  free  and  easy,  dark 
and  dreary,  high  and  mighty,  up  and  doing^.  It  is  pro- 
bable that  rhythm  has  also  played  a  great  part  in  deter- 
mining the  order  of  words  in  other  fixed  groups  of  greater 
complexity.  2 

1  Compare  also  such  titles  of  books  as  Songs  and  Poems, 
Men  and  Women,  Past  and  Present,  French  and  English,  Night 
and  Morning.  In  some  instances,  rhythm  is  obviously  not  the 
only  reason  for  the  order,  but  in  all  I  think  it  has  been  at 
least  a  concurrent  cause. 

2  P.  Fijn  van  Draat,  Rhythm  in  English  Prose  (Heidelberg 
1 9 10)  has  many  interesting  observations  on  the  influence  of 
rhythm,  though  I  would  not  subscribe  to  all  his  conclusions. 

Chapter  X. 

236.  In  the  preceding  chapters  we  have  considered  the 
early  vicissitudes  of  the  EngUsh  language,  the  various 
foreign  influences  brought  from  time  to  time  to  bear  on 
it,  its  inner  growth,  lexical  and  grammatical,  and  the 
linguistic  tendencies  of  its  poets.  It  now  remains  to  look 
at  a  few  things  which  have  contributed  towards  shaping 
the  language,  but  which  could  find  no  convenient  place 
in  any  of  the  preceding  chapters,  and  then  to  say  some- 
thing about  the  spread  and  probable  future  of  the  lan- 

237.  Aristocratic  and  democratic  tendencies  in  a  nation 
often  show  themselves  in  its  speech;  indeed,  we  have 
already  regarded  the  adoption  of  French  and  Latin  words 
from  that  point  of  view.  It  is  often  said,  on  the  Continent 
at  least,  that  the  typical  Englishman's  self-assertion  is 
shown  by  the  fact  that  his  is  the  only  language  in  which 
the  pronoun  of  the  first  person  is  written  with  a  capital 
letter,  while  in  some  other  languages  it  is  the  second 
person  that  is  honoured  by  this  distinction,  especially 
the  pronoun  of  courtesy  (Germain  Sie,  often  also  Du, 
Danish  De  and  in  former  times  Du,  Italian  Ella^  Lei, 
Spanish  V.  or  Vd.,  Finnish  Te).  Weise  goes  so  far  as  to 
say  that  'the  Englishman,  who  as  the  ruler  of  the  seas 
looks  down  in  contempt  on  the  rest  of  Europe,  writes 
in  his  language  nothing  but  the  beloved   /  with  a  big 

Aristocratic?  235 

letter'.^  But  this  is  little  short  of  calumny.  If  self- 
assertion  had  been  the  real  cause,  why  should  not  me 
also  be  written  Me}  The  reason  for  writing  /  is  a  much 
more  innocent  one,  namely  the  orthographic  habit  in  the 
middle  ages  of  using  a  'long  i'  (that  is,  j  or  I),  whenever 
the  letter  was  isolated  or  formed  the  last  letter  of  a  group; 
the  numeral  one  was  written  j  or  I  (and  three,  iij,  etc.) 
just  as  much  as  the  pronoun.  Thus  no  sociological  in- 
ference can  be  drawn  from  this  peculiarity. 

238.  On  the  other  hand,  the  habit  of  addressing  a  single 
person  by  means  of  a  plural  pronoun  was  decidedly  in  its 
origin  an  outcome  of  an  aristocratic  tendency  towards 
class-distinction.  The  habit  originated  with  the  Roman 
Emperors,  who  desired  to  be  addressed  as  beings  worth 
more  than  a  single  ordinary  man;  and  French  courtesy  in 
the  middle  ages  propagated  it  throughout  Europe.  In 
England  as  elsewhere  this  plural  pronoun  (you,  ye)  was 
long  confined  to  respectful  address.  Superior  persons  or 
strangers  were  addressed  as  you;  thou  thus  becoming  the 
mark  either  of  the  inferiority  of  the  person  spoken  to, 
or  of  familiarity  or  even  intimacy  or  affection  between 
the  two  interlocutors.  English  is  the  only  language  that 
has  got  rid  of  this  useless  distinction.  The  Quakers  (the 
Society  of  Friends)  objected  to  the  habit  as  obscuring 
the  equality  of  all  human  beings;  they  therefore  thou'd 
(or  rather  thee'd)  everybody.  But  the  same  democratic 
levelling  that  they  wanted  to  effect  in  this  way,  was 
achieved  a  century  and  a  half  later  in  society  at  large, 
though  in  a  roundabout  manner,  when  the  pronoun  you 
was  gradually  extended  to  lower  classes  and  thus  lost 
more  and  more  of  its  previous  character  of  deference. 
Thou  then  for  some  time  was  reserved  for  religious  and 
literary  use  as  well  as  for  foul  abuse,  until  finally  the 

I  Charakteristik  der  lateinischen  Sprache.     1899,  p.  21. 

236  X-  Conclusion. 

latter  use  was  discontinued  also  and  you  became  the  only- 
form  used  in  ordinary  conversation. 

239.  Apart  from  the  not  very  significant  survival  of 
thou,  English  has  thus  attained  the  only  manner  of  ad- 
dress worthy  of  a  nation  that  respects  the  elementary 
rights  of  each  individual.  People  who  express  regret  at 
not  having  a  pronoun  of  endearment  and  who  insist  how 
pretty  it  is  in  other  languages  when,  for  instance,  two 
lovers  pass  from  vous  to  the  more  familiar  tu,  should  con- 
sider that  no  foreign  language  has  really  a  pronoun  ex- 
clusively for  the  most  intimate  relations.  Where  the  two 
forms  of  address  do  survive,  thou  is  very  often,  most  often 
perhaps,  used  without  real  affection,  nay  very  frequently 
in  contempt  or  frank  abuse.  Besides,  it  is  often  painful 
to  have  to  choose  between  the  two  forms,  as  people  may 
be  offended,  sometimes  by  the  too  familiar,  and  some- 
times by  the  too  distant  mode.  Some  of  the  unpleasant 
feeling  of  Helmer  towards  Krogstad  in  Ibsen's  Dukkehjem 
('A  Doll's  House'  or  'Nora')  must  be  lost  to  an  English 
audience  because  occasioned  by  the  latter  using  an  old 
schoolfellow's  privilege  of  thou-ing  Helmer.  In  some 
languages  the  pronoun  of  respect  often  is  a  cause  of 
ambiguity,  in  German  and  Danish  by  the  identity  in 
form  of  Sie  (De)  with  the  plural  of  the  third  person,  in 
Italian  and  Portuguese  by  the  identity  with  the  singular 
(feminine)  of  the  third  person.  When  all  the  artificialities 
of  the  modes  of  address  in  different  nations  are  taken 
into  account  —  the  Lei,  Ella,  voi  and  tu  of  the  Italians, 
the  vossa  merce  ('your  grace',  to  shopkeepers)  and  voce 
(shortened  form  of  the  same,  to  people  of  a  lower  grade) 
of  the  Portuguese  (who  in  addressing  equals  or  superiors 
use  the  third  person  singular  of  the  verb  without  any 
pronoun  or  noun),  the  gij,  jij,  je  and  U  of  the  Dutch, 
not  to  mention  the  eternal  use  of  titles  as  pronouns  in 
German   and,   still   more,   in  Swedish   ('What   does   Mr. 

You.     The  Bible.  237 

Doctor  want?'  'The  gracious  Miss  is  probably  aware', 
€tc,)  —  the  English  may  be  justly  proud  of  having  avoid- 
ed all  such  mannerisms  and  ridiculous  extravagances, 
though  the  simple  Old  English  way  of  using  thou  in  ad- 
dressing one  person  and  ye  in  addressing  more  than  one 
would  have  been  still  better. 

240.  Religion  has  had  no  small  influence  on  the  Enghsh 
language.  The  Bible  has  been  studied  and  quoted  in 
England  more  than  in  any  other  Christian  country,  and 
a  great  many  Bibhcal  phrases  have  passed  into  the 
ordinary  language  as  household  words.  The  style  of  the 
Authorized  Version  has  been  greatly  admired  by  many 
of  the  best  judges  of  English  style,  who  —  with  some 
exaggeration  —  recommend  an  early  familiarity  with 
and  a  constant  study  of  the  English  bible  (and  of  that 
great  imitator  of  Biblical  simplicity  and  earnestness,  John 
Bunyan)  as  the  best  training  in  the  English  language.^ 
Tennyson  found  that  parts  of  The  Book  of  the  Revelation 
were  finer  in  English  than  in  Greek,  and  he  said  that 

I  See  the  long  series  of  quotations  given  in  Albert  S.  Cook's 
little  book  'The  Bible  and  English  Prose  Style'  (Boston,  1892). 
On  the  other  hand,  Fitzedward  Hall  says,  'To  Dr.  Newman, 
and  to  the  myriads  who  think  as  he  does  about  our  English 
Bible,  one  would  be  allowed  to  whisper,  that  the  poor  'Turks' 
of  the  Prayer  Book  talk  exactly  in  their  own  fashion,  and  for 
reasons  strictly  analogous  to  theirs,  about  the  purity  of  diction, 
and  what  not,  of  'the  Blessed  Koran'  ....  Ever  since  the 
Reformation,  the  ruling  language  of  English  religion  has  been, 
with  rare  exception,  an  affair  either  of  studied  antiquarianism 
or  of  nauseous  pedantry.  Simphcity,  and  little  more,  was 
aimed  at,  originally;  and  it  sufficed  for  times  of  real  earnest- 
ness. But  the  very  quaintness  of  phrase  which  King  James 
countersigned  has  attained  to  be  canonized,  till  a  hath,  or 
a  thou,  delivered  with  conventional  unction ,  now  well  nigh 
inspires  a  sensation  of  solemnity  in  its  hearer,  and  a  per- 
suasion of  the  sanctanimity  of  its  utterer'.  {Modern  English 
p.  16—17.) 

238  X.  Conclusion. 

'the  Bible  ought  to  be  read,  were  it  only  for  the  sake  of 
the  grand  English  in  which  it  is  written,  an  education  in 
itself.'^  The  rhythmical  character  of  the  Authorized 
Version  is  seen,  for  instance,  in  the  well-known  passage 
(Job  III.  17)  'There  the  wicked  cease  from  troubling: 
and  there  the  wearie  be  at  rest',  which  Tennyson  was  able 
to  use  as  the  last  line  of  his  'May  Queen'  with  scarcely 
any  alteration:  'And  the  wicked  cease  from  troubling, 
and  the  weary  are  at  rest'. 

241.  C.  Stoffel  has  collected  quite  a  number  of  scriptural 
phrases  and  allusions  used  in  Modern  English^,  such  as 
'Tell  it  not  in  Gath',  'the  powers  that  be',  'olive  branches' 
(children),  'strain  at  [or  out)  a  gnat',  'to  spoil  the  Egyp- 
tians', 'he  may  run  that  readeth  it',  'take  up  his  parable', 
'wash  one's  hands  of  something,  'a  still  small  voice', 
'thy  speech  bewrayeth  thee'.  Some  which  Stoffel  does 
not  mention  may  find  their  place  here.  The  modern  word 
a  helpmate  is  a  corruption  of  the  two  words  in  Gen.  II,  18: 
'I  will  make  him  an  helpe  meet  for  him'  [meet  'suitable'); 
the  slang  word  a  rib  'a  wife'  is  from  Genesis,  too,  and  so 
is  the  expression  'the  lesser  lights'.  'A  howling  wilderness' 
is  from  Deuteron.  XXXII.  10.  'My  heart  was  still  hot 
within  me;  then  spake  I  with  my  tongue'  (used,  for  in- 
stance, in  Charlotte  Bronte's  'The  Professor',  p.  161)  is 
from  Psalms  XXXIX.  3,  and  'many  inventions'  from 
Ecclesiastes  VII.  29.  From  the  New  Testament  may  be 
mentioned  'to  kill  the  fatted  calf'^,  'whited  sepulchres', 
'of  the  earth,  earthy',  and  'to  comprehend  with  all 
saints ,  what  is  the  breadth ,  and  length ,  and  depth  and 

1  Life  and  Letters,  II.  41  and  71. 

2  Studies   in  English,    Written  and  Spoken,    1894,   p.  125. 

3  While  the  phrase  prodigal  son  is  not  found  in  the 
text  of  the  Bible,  it  occurs  in  the  heading  of  the  chapter 
(Luke  XV). 

Scriptural  Words.  2^0 

242.  The  scriptural  'holy  of  holies',  which  contains  a 
Hebrew  manner  of  expressing  the  superlative^  has  given 
rise  to  a  great  many  similar  phrases  in  English,  such  as 
'in  my  heart  of  hearts'  (Shakesp.  Hamlet,  HI.  2.  78; 
Wordsw.  Prelude  XIV.  281),  'the  place  of  all  places' 
(Miss  Austen,  Mansf.  P.  71),  'I  rememberj'you  a  buck  of 
bucks'  (Thackeray,  Newc.  lOO),  'every  lad  has  a  friend 
of  friends,  a  crony  of  cronies,  whom  he  cherishes  in  his 
heart  of  hearts'  (ib.  148),  'the  evil  of  evils  in  our  present 
politics'  (Lecky,  Democr.  and  Lib.  I.  21),  'the  woman  is 
a  horror  of  horrors'  (H.  James,  Two  Magics  60),  'that 
mystery  of  mysteries,  the  beginning  of  things'  (Sully, 
Study  of  Childh.  71),  'she  is  a  modern  of  the  moderns' 
(Mrs.  H.  Ward,  Eleanor  265),  'love  like  yours  is  the  pearl 
of  pearls,  and  he  who  wins  it  is  prince  of  princes'  (Hall 
Caine,  Christian  443),  'chemistry  had  been  the  study  of 
studies  for  T.  Sandys'  (Barrie,  Tommy  and  Grizel  6). 
Compare  also  'I  am  sorrowful  to  my  tail's  tail'  (Kipling, 
Sec.  Jungle  B.  160). 

243.  Some  scriptural  proper  names  have  often  been 
used  as  appellatives,  such  as  Jezebel  and  Rahab;  when  a 
driver  is  called  a  jehu  in  slang,  the  allusion  is  to  2  Kings 
IX.  20,  where  Jehu's  furious  driving  is  mentioned^.  There 
is  an  American  slang  expression  'to  give  a  person  Jessie' 
meaning,  'to  beat  him  soundly',  which  is  not  explained 
in  the  Dictionaries  (quotations  may  be  found  in  Bartlett 
and  in  Farmer  and  Henley).  Is  it  not  in  allusion  to  the 
rod  mentioned  in  Isa.  II.  1}  (There  shall  come  forth  a 
rod  out  of  the  stem  of  Jesse.')  The  N.  E.  D.  has  the 
spelling  Jesse  with  the  meaning  'a  genealogical  tree  re- 

1  Cf.  I  Timothy  VI.  15  'the  King  of  kings,  and  Lord  of 

2  Y  or  j or  am  or  jorum  'drinking  bowl'  2lT\A  jerry  see  N.E.  D., 
where  2  Sam.  VIII.  10,  and  Stoffel,  Studies  in  Engl.  138,  where 
I  King  XIV.  10  is  quoted. 


2AO  X.  Conclusion. 

presenting  the  genealogy  of  Christ  ...  a  decoration  for  a 
wall,  window,  vestment,  etc.,  or  in  the  form  of  a  large 
branched  candlestick'. 

244.  The  influence  of  Puritans,  though  not  strong 
enough  to  proscribe  such  words  as  Christmas,  for  which 
they  wanted  to  substitute  Christtide  in  order  to  avoid 
the  Catholic  mass,  was  yet  strong  enough  to  modify  the 
custom  of  swearing.  In  Catholic  times  all  sorts  of  fan- 
tastic oaths  were  fashionable: 

Hir  othes  been  so  grate  and  so  dampnable, 

That  it  is  grisly  for  to  here  hem  swere; 

Our  blissed  lordes  body  they  to-tere;  * 

Hem  thoughte  Jewes  rente  him  noght  ynough.  ^ 

This  practice  was  continued  after  the  Reformation,  and 
all  sorts  of  alterations  were  made  in  the  name  of  God  in 
order  to  soften  down  the  oaths:  gog,  cocke,  gosse,  gom, 
Gough,  Gad,  etc.  Similarly  instead  of  (the)  Lord  people 
would  say  something  like  Law,  Lawks,  Losh,  etc.  Some- 
times only  the  first  sound  was  left  out  (Odd's  lifelings, 
Shakesp.  Tw.  V.  187),  more  often  only  the  genitive  ending 
survived:  'Sblood  (God's  blood),  'snails,  'sHght,  'slid, 
'zounds  (God's  wounds).  The  final  sound  of  the  nomina- 
tive is  kept  in  'drot  it  (God  rot  it),  which  was  later  made 
drat  it  (or  with  a  playful  corruption  rabbit  it).  Many  of 
these  disguised  oaths  were  extremely  popular,  and  some 
survive  to  this  day.  Goodness  gracious  me,  which  defies 
all  grammatical  analysis,  is  one  among  numerous 
compromises  between  the  inclination  to  swear  and 
the  fear  of  swearing;  note  also  Rosalind's  words:  'By 
my  troth,  and  in  good  earnest,  and  so  God  mend 
mee,  and  by  all  pretty  oathes  that  are  not  dangerous'. 
(As  IV.  I.  192.) 

I  Chaucer  C.  T.,  C.  472  fi.,  also  see  Skeat's  note  to  this  passage, 
Chaucer's  Works  V  p.  275. 

Profane  Language.  241 

245.  The  Puritans  caused  a  law  to  be  enacted  in  1606 
by  which  profane  language  was  prohibited  on  the  stage 
(3  James  I.  chap.  21),  and  consequently  words  like 
'zounds  were  changed  or  omitted  in  Shakespearian  plays, 
as  we  see  from  a  comparison  of  the  folio  of  1623  and  the 
earlier  quartos;  Heaven  or  Jove  was  substituted  for  God, 
and  'fore  me  (afore  me)  or  trust  me  for  (a) fore  God;  'God 
give  thee  the  spirit  of  persuasion'  (H  4  A  I.  2.  170)  was 
changed  into  'Maist  thou  have  the  spirit  of  perswasion',  etc. 
But  in  ordinary  life  people  went  on  swearing,  and  from 
the  comedies  of  the  Restoration  period  a  rich  harvest 
may  be  reaped  af  all  sorts  of  curious  oaths.  By  little  and 
little,  however,  the  Puritan  spirit  conquered,  and  now 
there  can  be  little  doubt  that  the  English  swear  less  than 
other  European  nations  and  that  when  they  do  swear  the 
expressions  are  more  innocent  than  elsewhere.  Even  the 
usual  terms  for  oaths,  —  'profane  language'  and  'ex- 
pletives' —  point  to  a  greater  purity  in  this  respect.  Where 
a  French  or  German  or  Scandinavian  lady  will  express 
surprise  or  a  little  fright  by  exclaiming  (My)  God  1,  an 
Englishwoman  will  say  Dear  me!  or  Oh  my!  or  Good 
gracious!  Note  also  euphemisms  Hke  'deuce'  for  devil 
and  'the  other  place'  or  'a  very  uncomfortable  place' 
for  hell^.  Among  tabooed  words  in  English  one  finds  a 
great  number  which  in  other  countries  would  be  con- 
sidered quite  innocent,  and  the  English  have  shown  a 
really  astonishing  inventiveness  in  'apologies'  for  strong 
words  of  every  kind.  Damn  is  now  considered  extremely 
objectionable,  and  even  such  a  mild  substitute  for  it  as 
confound  is  scarcely  allowed  in  polite  society^.  In  Bernard 
Shaw's  Candida  Morell  is  provoked  into  exclaiming  'Con- 
found your  impudence !',   whereupon  his  vulgar  father- 

1  Compare  also  'I  will  see  you  further'. 

2  In   the  original  sense  it  has  often  to  be  accompanied  by 
togethef   to  avoid  misunderstanding. 

Jespbrskn:  English,  and  ed.  16 

2j^2  ^-  Conclusion. 

in-law  retorts,    'Is  that  becomin  language  for  a  clorgy- 
man?'  and  Morell  replies,    'No,   sir,   it  is  not  becoming 
language  for  a  clergyman.    I  should  have  said  damn  your 
impudence:   thats   what   St.   Paul   or   any  honest   priest 
would  have  said  to  you'.     Other  substitutes  for  damned 
are  hanged,   somethinged   (much  rarer) ^  and   a  few   that 
originate  in  the  manner  in  which  the  objectionable  word 
is  —  not  printed :  dashed  (a  —  or  'dash'  being  put  instead 
of  it),   blanked  (from  the  same  manner),   deed  (from  the 
abbreviation  d — d;  sometimes  the  verb  is  printed  to  D). 
Darned  must  be  explained  as  a  purely  phonetical  develop- 
ment of  damned,  which  is  not  without  analogies,  while 
danged,  which  occurs  in  Tennyson,  is  a  curious  blending 
of  damned  and  hanged^.  Thus  we  have  here  a  whole  family 
of  words  with  an  initial  d,  allowing  the  speaker  to  begin 
as  if  he  were  going  to  say  the  prohibited  word,  and  then 
to  turn  off  into  more  innocent  channels.    The  same  is  the 
case  with  the  ^/-words.      Blessed  by  a  process  which  is 
found  in  other  similar  cases^  came  to  mean  the  opposite 
of  the  original  meaning  and  became  a  synonym  of  cursed; 
blamed  had   the   same   signification^      Instead   of   these 
strong  expressions  people  began  to  use  other  adjectives, 
shunting  off  after  pronouncing  bl-  into  some  innocent 
word  like  bloody,  which  soon  became  a  great  favourite 
with  the  vulgar  and  therefore  a  horror  to  ears  polite,  or 
blooming,    which    had    the    same    unhappy   fate    in    the 
latter  half  of  the  nineteenth  century.    Few  authors  would 

1  Cf,  the  similar  use  of  something  in  'Where  the  something 
are  you  coming  to?'     (Pett  Ridge,  Lost  Property  167.) 

2  'I'm  doomed!'  Corp  muttered  to  himself,  pronouncing 
it  in  another  way.  (Barrie,  Tommy  and  Grizel,  p.  122.)  This 
shows  another  way  of  disguising  the  word  in  print. 

3  Cf.  silly.,  French  benet,  etc. 

4  There  exists  also  a  word  blamed ,  a  blending  of  blamed 
and  damned  (darned). 


Objectionable  Words,  243 

now  venture  to  term  their  heroines  'blooming  young  girls' 
as  George  Eliot  does  repeatedly  in  'Middlemarch'.  Simil- 
arly Shakespeare's  expression  'the  bloody  book  of  law' 
is  completely  spoilt  to  modern  readers,  and  lexicographers 
now  have  to  render  Old  English  blodig  and  the  correspond- 
ing words  in  foreign  languages  by  'bleeding',  'blood- 
stained', 'sanguinary'  or  'ensanguined';  but  even  san- 
guinary is  often  made  a  substitute  for  'bloody'  in  report- 
ing vulgar  speech. 

246.  This  is  the  usual  destiny  of  euphemisms;  in  order 
to  avoid  the  real  name  of  what  is  thought  indecent  or 
improper  people  use  some  innocent  word.  But  when  that 
becomes  habitual  in  this  sense  it  becomes  just  as  ob- 
jectionable as  the  word  it  has  ousted  and  now  is  rejected 
in  its  turn.  Privy  is  the  regular  English  development  of 
French  prive;  but  when  it  came  to  be  used  as  a  noun  for 
*a  privy  place'  and  in  the  phrase  'the  privy  parts',  it  had 
to  be  supplanted  in  the  original  sense  by  private,  except 
in  'Privy  Council',  'Privy  Seal'  and  'Privy  Purse',  where 
its  official  dignity  kept  it  alive.  The  plural  parts  was 
an  ordinary  expression  for  'talents,  mental  ability', 
until  the  use  of  the  word  in  veiled  language  made  it 

247.  I  do  not  know  whether  American  and  especially 
Boston  ladies  are  really  as  prudish  as  they  are  reported 
to  be,  speaking  of  the  limhs  of  a  piano  and  of  their  own 
benders  instead  of  legs,  or  saying  waist  instead  of  hody^. 

1  Cf.  from  America  'He -biddy.  —  A  male  fowl.  A  product 
of  prudery  and  squeamishness'.  Farmer,  Americanisms  -^.'z^l- 
Cf.  also  Storm,  Engl.  Philologie ,  p.  887  (roosterswain). 

2  See  Thackeray,  Virginians y  quoted  by  Hoppe,  Supple- 
mentlexicon,  s.  v.  leg;  Bartlett's  and  Farmer's  Dictionaries  of 
Americanisms ,  etc.  Cf.  also  Opie  Read ,  A  Kentucky  Colofiel, 
p.  II  'He  was  so  delicate  of  expression  that  he  always  said 
limb  when  he  meant  leg'. 


244  ^'  Conclusion. 

But  when  to  alter  is  said  in  the  Southern  States  instead 
of  to  geld,  and  when  ox  is  commonly  used  in  America 
for  bull  (jocosely  even  gentleman  cow!)'^,  the  same  tend- 
ency may  be  observed  on  this  side  the  Atlantic  too.  At 
least  Mr.  F.  T.  Elworthy,  who  knows  the  ways  of  Somerset 
peasants  better  than  anybody  else,  says  that  the  plain 
old  English  names  for  the  male  animals  are  going  out  of 
use:  'It  has,  perhaps,  been  taught  or  implied  that  such 
names  as  Bull,  Stalhon,  Boar,  Cock,  Ram  are  in- 
delicate; at  any  rate,  we  must  no  longer  call  a  spade  a 
spade,  but  there  is  a  very  distinct  tendency  to  fine  them 
down,  by  a  weakening  process,  so  that  at  last  the  generic 
word  for  the  animal  has  commonly  got  to  be  used  to 
express  the  entire  male'  (Elworthy,  Fresh  Words  and 
Phrases  in  the  Somersetshire  Dialect,  p.  6^).  I  am  afraid 
we  have  here  alighted  on  a  trait  which  does  not  bear  out 
my  description  (in  the  introductory  chapter)  of  English 
as  a  masculine  language.  However,  it  is  possible  that  the 
tendency  here  mentioned  may  be  a  passing  one  only  and 
that  common  sense  will  prevail — as  it  has  prevailed  in 
the  case  of  trousers,  which  word  is  now  certainly  less 
proscribed  than  it  was  fifty  years  ago.  Perhaps  the  very 
absurdity  of  the  taboo,  which  made  people  invent  no 
end  of  comic  names  (inexpressibles,  inexplicables,  in- 
describables,  ineffables,  unmentionables,  unwhisperables, 
my  mustn't-mention-em,  sit-upons,  sine  qua  nons,  etc.) 
has  been  the  reason  of  the  re-instatement  of  the  good  old 
word.  Prudery  is  an  exaggeration,  but  purity  is  a  virtue, 
and  there  can  be  no  doubt  that  the  speech  of  the  average 

1  'One  sometimes  sees  a  'lady -dog'  offered  for  sale  in 
England,  but  'male -sheep',  'male -hogs',  'gentlemen -turkeys', 
and  'gentlemen -game -chickens'  belong  to  the  natural  history 
of  refined  Boston  only.'  T.  Baron  Russell,  Current  Ameri- 
canisms 1 6. 

2  Transactions  of  the  Philological  Society,  1898. 

Prudery.  245 

Englishman  is  less  tainted  with  indecencies  of  various 
kinds  than  that  of  the  average  continental.  — 

248.  This  volume  has  in  so  far  been  one-sided  as  it 
has  dealt  chiefly  with  Standard  English  and  has  left  out 
of  account  nearly  everything  that  is  not  generally  ac- 
cepted as  such,  apart  from  here  and  there  a  nonce-for- 
mation or  a  bold  expression  which  is  not  recognized  as 
good  English  though  interesting  as  showing  the  possibili- 
ties of  the  language  and  perhaps  in  some  cases  deserving 
popularity  just  as  well  as  many  things  that  nobody  finds 
fault  with.  The  question  how  one  form  of  English  came 
to  be  taken  as  standard  in  preference  to  dialects,  has  been 
deliberately  omitted  as  well  as  all  the  problems  connected 
with  that  pseudo-historical  and  anti-educational  abom- 
ination, the  English  speUing.^  What  I  have  to  say 
on  these  subjects  and  on  provincialisms,  cockneyisms  and 
vulgarisms,  cant,  slang,  American  and  Colonial  English, 
Pidgin- English  and  Negro- English,  etc.,  must  be  left  for 
the  future;  at  present  I  shall  conclude  with  a'few  remarks 
on  what  might  be  called  the  Expansion  of  English. 

249.  Only  two  or  three  centuries  ago,  English  was 
spoken  by  so  few  people  that  no  one  could  dream  of  its 
ever  becoming  a  world  language.  In  1582  Richard  Mul- 
caster  wrote.  The  English  tongue  is  of  small  reach,  stretch- 
ing no  further  than  this  island  of  ours,  nay  not  there 
over  air.  'In  one  of  Florio's  Anglo- Italian  dialogues,  an 
Italian  in  England,  asked  to  give  his  opinion  of  the 
language,  replied  that  it  was  worthless  beyond  Dover. 
Ancillon  regretted  that  the  English  authors  chose  to 
write  in  English  as  no  one  abroad  could  read  them.  Even 
such  as  learned  English  by  necessity  speedily  forgot  it. 

I  A  historical  account  of  the  English  sound -system  and 
English  spelling  may  be  found  in  my  Modem  English  Gram- 
mar I  (Heidelberg,  Carl  Winter,  1909). 


2 /1 6  ^-  Conclusion. 

As  late  as  1718,  Le  Clerc  deplored  the  small  number  of 
scholars  on  the  Continent  able  to  read  English'.^  Compare 
what  Portia  replies  to  Nerissa's  question  about  Faucon- 
bridge,  the  young  baron  of  England  (Merch.  I.  2.  72) : 
'You  know  I  say  nothing  to  him,  for  hee  understands  not 
me,  nor  I  him:  he  hath  neither  Latine,  French,  nor  Italian, 
and  you  will  come  into  the  Court  and  sweare  that  I  have 
a  poore  pennie-worth  in  the  English.  Hee  is  a  proper 
mans  picture,  but  alas,  who  can  converse  with  a  dumbe 
show?'  In  17 14  Veneroni  published  an  Imperial  Diction- 
ary of  the  four  chief  languages  of  Europe,  that  is,  Italian, 
French,  German  and  Latin^.  Now,  no  one  would  over- 
look English  in  making  even  the  shortest  possible  list  of 
the  chief  languages,  because  in  political,  social,  and 
literary  importance  it  is  second  to  none  and  because  it  is 
the  mother-tongue  of  a  greater  number  of  human  beings 
than  any  of  its  competitors. 

250.  It  would  be  unreasonable  to  suppose,  as  is  some- 
times done,  that  the  cause  of  the  enormous  propagation 
of  the  English  language  is  to  be  sought  in  its  intrinsic 
merits.  When  two  languages  compete,  the  victory  does 
not  fall  to  the  most  perfect  language  as  such.  Nor  is  it 
always  the  nation  whose  culture  is  superior  that  makes 
the  nation  of  inferior  culture  adopt  its  language:  in  some 
parts  of  Switzerland  German  is  gaining  ground  at  the 
expense  of  French,  and  in  others  French  is  supplanting 
German,  yet  no  one  can  suppose  that  the  superiority  of 
the  two  nations  is  reversed  in  two  adjacent  districts.  It 
sometimes  happens  in  a  district  of  mixed  nationalities 

1  Ch.  Bastide,   Huguenot  Thought  in  England.    Journal  of     \ 
Comparative  Literature  I  (1903)  p.  45. 

2  Das  kayserliche  Spruch-  und  Worterbuch,  darinnen  die 
4  europaischen  Hauptsprachen ,  als  nemlicti:  das  Italianische, 
das  Frantzosische,  das  Teutsche  und  das  Lateinische  erklart 

Expansion  of  English.  247 

that  the  population  which  is  intellectually  superior  give 
up  their  own  language  because  they  can  learn  their 
neighbours'  tongue  while  these  are  too  dull  to  learn 
anything  but  their  own:  this  is  said  by  some  to  be  the 
reason  why  in  Posen  and  adjacent  districts  Polish  is 
gaining  ground  over  German,  a  fact  which  others  ascribe 
to  the  greater  fertility  of  the  Poles.  A  great  many  social 
problems  are  involved  in  the  general  question  of  rivalry 
of  languages^,  and  it  would  be  an  interesting,  but  difficult 
task  to  examine  in  detail  all  the  different  reasons  that  have 
in  so  many  regions  of  the  world  determined  the  victory 
of  English  over  other  languages ,  European  and  non- 
European.  Political  ascendancy  would  probably  be  found 
in  most  cases  to  have  been  the  most  powerful  influence. 

251.  However  that  may  be,  the  fact  remains  that  no 
other  European  language  has  spread  over  such  vast 
regions  during  the  last  few  centuries,  as  shown  by  the 
following  figures,  which  represent  the  number  of  millions 
of  people  speaking  each  of  the  languages  enumerated^: 

Year   English   German  Russian  French  Spanish    Italian 




































1  Some  excellent  remarks  may  be  found  in  H.  Morf,  Deutsche 
und  Romanen  in  der  Schweiz  (Ziirich  1901).  See  also  Will's 
dissertation,  quoted  below. 

2  See  Lewis  Carnac,  quoted  by  R.  M.  Meyer,  Indogermani- 
sche  Forschunge7i  XII,  84;  E.  Hasse,  Handworterbuch  der 
Slaatswtssenschafteji,  'Kolonien  und  Kolonialpolitik';  Otto  Will, 
Die  Tauglichkeit  und  die  Aussichten  der  englischeii  Sprache  ah 
Weltsprache ,  Breslau  1903  The  numbers  given  are  necessarily 
approximative  only,  especially  for  the  older  periods.  Where 
my  authorities  disagree,  I  have  given  the  lowest  and  in  paren- 
thesis the  highest  figure. 


X.  Conclusion. 

.Whatever  a  remote  future  may  have  in  store,  one 
need  not  be  a  great  prophet  to  predict  that  in  the  near 
future  the  number  of  Enghsh-speaking  people  will  in- 
crease considerably.  The  curse  of  Babel  is  beginning  to 
lose  its  sting,  and  it  must  be  a  source  of  gratification  to 
mankind  that  the  tongue  spoken  by  two  of  the  greatest 
powers  of  the  world  is  so  noble,  so  rich,  so  pliant,  so  ex- 
pressive, and  so  interesting  as  the  language  whose  growth 
and  structure  I  have  been  here  endeavouring  to  charac- 

Phonetic  Symbols. 

(Alphabet  of  the  Association  Phonitique  Internationale.) 

'  stands  before  the  stressed  syllable. 

•  indicates  lenght  of  the  preceding  vowel. 

[a-]  as  in  alms. 

[ai]  as  in  /ce. 

[au]  as  in  h.oust. 

[ae]  as  in  h.aX.. 

[ei]  as  in  h<2te. 

[9]  as  in  about,  colour. 

[i-]  as  in  French  d/se. 

[ij]  as  in  h£aX\  practically 

=  [i  •]. 

[ou]  as  in  s^. 

[o]  as  in  h<9t. 

[o]  as  in  hall. 

See  my  Modern  English  Gra?nmar  (1909). 

[a]     as  in  h«t. 

[u-]    as  in  French  dpowse. 

[uw]  as  in  who;  practically 

=  [u-]. 
[y]     as  in  French  vu. 

[]?]  as  in  thiii. 

[d]  as  in  th\s. 

[s]  as  in  jeal. 

[z]  as  in  zedX. 

[f]  as  in  shin\  [tj]  as  in  ch\n. 

[3]  as  in  vij/on;  [dsjasin^n. 


O.  E.  =  Old  English  ('Anglo-Saxon'). 

M.E.  =  Middle  English. 
Mod.  E.  =  Modem  English. 

O.  Fr.  =  Old  French. 

O.  N.  =  Old  Norse. 
O.  H.  G.  =  Old  High  German. 

N.  E.  D.  =  A  New  English  Dictionary,    by  Murray,    Bradley, 
and  Craigie. 

The  titles  of  Shakespeare's  plays  are  abbreviated  as  in 
Al.  Schmidt's  Shakespeare- Lexicon,  thus  Ado  =  Much  Ado  about 
Nothing,  Gent.  =  The  two  Gentlemen  of  Verona,  H4A  =  First 
Part  of  Henry  the  Fourth,  Hml.  =  Ha?nlet,  R2  =  Richard  the 
Second,  Tp.  =  Tempest,  Tw.  =  Twelfth  Night,  Wiv.  =  The 
Merry  Wives  of  Wi?tdso? ,  etc.  Acts ,  scenes ,  and  lines  as  in 
the  Globe  edition. 


References  are  to  the  number  of  the  sections. 
Only  the  more  important  words  used  as  examples  are  included. 

a  pronoun  72. 

abbreviations  10,  176. 

Abigail  233. 

-able,  108,   109. 

absolute  participle  125. 

abstract  terms  114  if. 

academies  18. 

accent,  see  stress  and  tone. 

accidence  178  ff. 

-aceous  123. 

ache  169. 

accommodate  219. 

action,  deed,  loi. 

activity  219. 

Addison,    on    who  and   which 

adjectives,  place  85,  —   Latin 

and  English    i3iff.,   in   -ish 

adventure  116. 
adverbs  turned  into  adjectives 

advice  116. 

Africa,  Dutch  and  English  1 54. 
agent-nouns  162. 
aggravate  119. 
aggressive  no. 
aid,  help  100. 
aim  III, 
Alfred  46,  48,  53,  58,  59. 

alliteration  54,  56. 

alms  187. 

also  in  Shakespeare  and  Bacon 

am  (reading)  206. 
ambiguity  140,  172. 
America,     speech-mixture    78, 

prudery  247. 
ana,  123, 
anchor  32. 
Ancrene  Riwle,  French  words 

in,  94. 
angel  38,  86. 
Angles  34. 
Anglicizing     of     Scandinavian 

words  63. 
Anglo-Saxon,  see  Old  English. 
anti-  124. 
April  116. 
aquiline  132. 
archaisms  229. 
Arian  family  of  languages  21, 

character  of  primitive  Arian 

-arious  123. 
Aristarchy  143  note, 
aristocratic     tendencies     82ft"., 

93,  130,  237. 
art,  words  relating  to,  qi. 
article,  definite  9. 



Aryan,  see  Arian. 
assassination  219. 
■ation  123. 
-ative  123. 
Australasia  157. 
authors,  expressions  due  to  in- 
dividual authors  233. 
avunculaf   132. 
awe  70. 
ay  70. 

back-formations  173,  188,  189. 

Baconian  theory  220  (p.  217). 

bairn  64, 

bankrupt  116. 

Banting  173. 

bath,  bathe  168. 

bathos  119. 

beet  32. 

beg  173. 

Bell's    phonetic    nomenclature 

Beowulf  49,  54. 
Bible,  influence  196,  231,  240  ff. 
birth  70, 
bit,  bite  170. 
blend  64. 
blessed  245. 
bloody  131,  245. 
bloom  -ji. 
blooming  245. 
bonnet  219. 
^<?c'/'/%  61. 
bound  61,  104. 
bourne  228. 
bread  71. 
breeches  191. 
^r^<?^  170. 
brethren  191. 
bridal  210. 
Britons,  see  Celts. 
brood  ijo. 
brother  191,  224. 

^rwj-A  171. 
^w^'/^  61. 
(5«r^/tf  173. 
^«/^^  173. 
-fty  60,  61,  74. 
by-law  74. 

^fl^  176. 

^a^'  173.  z'" 

call  59, 

^(xr/"  36. 

Caxton  69,  98. 

Celts  21,  in  England  35,  Celtic 

words  in  English  36  ff. 
censuj'e  219. 
certainty,  certitude  116. 
ch  112. 

^^(?a/  32,  210. 
Charlie  112. 
charm  219. 
Chaucer  94,  98,  226. 
<;^<?^r  112. 
chick  56. 
children  191. 
children's     words  177. 
choose,  choice  97. 
Christianity,  influence  on 

language  38fif. 
church  38. 
classical  studies,  effect  on  style 

127;  see  also  Latin  and  Greek. 
cleave  231. 
climax  119. 
clippings    of   long    words    10, 

176  (173). 

clothe,  dress  100. 

CO-  124. 

coined  words  I58f. 

cold,  synonyms   136. 

colour  and  derivatives  117. 

companion  219. 

compounds,  instead  of  adject- 
ives 132,  verbs  174,  nouns  210. 



conciseness  lo. 

confound  245. 

conjunctions  209, 

consonants    3,    groups    5,     6, 

shift    24,    26,  in  nouns  and 

verbs  168  f. 
continuous  forms  206. 
cook  32. 

cordial,  hearty  100. 
cose  173. 
cottage,  hut  100, 
cowl  39. 
crave  74. 

critic,  critique,  criticize  116. 
croon  233. 
cuisine  88. 
curse  36. 
,    Cynewulf's  First  Riddle  58. 

dainty  210. 

dale  64,  loi. 

dalliance  no. 

^(2w;^  and  substitutes  245. 

Danes,   Danelaw    58,    61,    cf. 

danger  112. 

D'Arblay,  Madame  145. 
dafkle  173. 
dart  171. 

Darwin,  on  classical  studies  127. 
de-  124. 
^^^/  116. 

democratic  tendencies  237. 
describe  116. 
devil  38. 
dialects,  differences  in  verbal 

inflection  193. 
Dickens  on  a  large  retinue  of 

words  135. 
die  61,  72. 
differentiations     66,     84,     lOO, 

III,  112,  116,  167,  179. 
difficult  173. 

diminutives  13. 

disciple  39. 

dish  32. 

do  206,   225,  226;  doeth,  doth 

^^z/(J/  112,  116. 
drat  it  24^. 
dream  71. 

dress,  words  relating  to,  90. 
dress,  dressing  167. 
drown  51. 
Dryden,     French     words    95, 

syntax  126. 
duration  no. 

Dutch  in  South  Africa  154. 
duty  III. 
dwell  71. 

e-  and  in-  (im-)  confounded  140. 

earl  71. 

Easte?  42. 

ecclesiastical  terms,  Latin  38  ff., 

French  86. 
-ed,  suffix  162. 
edge  66. 
edify  133. 
-i?^  III. 
egg  66,  69. 
tf>^^  220. 
'em  72. 
-f«    nouns    in,    160,    verbs    in 

162,    plural    of  nouns    185, 

of  verbs  193. 
endings,  worn  off,  7. 
English,  masculinity  of  2ff.,  a 

world  language  2486. 
enormous  119. 
equal  116. 
•er  97,  162. 
etymology  oipup,  cad,  pet  i^ it 

unknown,     of    many    short 

words  176. 
euphemisms  244  ff. 



«uphony  3!?.,  226. 
Euphuism  218. 

.£X-    124. 

example^  exemplary  117. 
exhibit,  exhibition  167. 
expansion  of  English  249  ff. 
•eye-words  142. 

/  alternating  with  v  168. 
Jad  176. 

faint  171. 

family,  familiar  132. 

Jeed  170. 

feel,  feeling  167. 

felicity  99. 

feminine  nouns,  formation  of, 

feudalism  82. 

fierce  103. 
Jltz  103. 
flute  112. 

/^^  56. 

/<?/>^,  people  100. 

y27(?<ar  170. 

^^  with  an  infinitive  211. 

foreign  titles  156. 

frame  171. 

iFrench  81  ff.,  rulers  of  England 
82,  spheres  of  signification 
82 if.,  number  of  words  in 
early  authors  94,  date  of 
adoption  95,  French  and 
native  words  97  f.,  not 
popularly  understood  99, 
synonyms  100,  forms  103, 
sounds  105,  hybrids  106 ff., 
independant  formations  on 
English  soil  iioff,  old  and 
recent  loans  112,  French 
and  Latin  ii4ff 

^.friend  71. 

fro,  from  66. 

future  8 1,  206. 

g,  pronunciation  112. 

gain  76,  97. 

gait  76. 

games,  terms  of,  89. 

gate  76. 

gender  205. 

genitive  case,  Scandinavian  80, 

position   81,   endings    iSoflf. 
Germanic,   pre-historic   20 ff., 

how  considered  by  Romans 

23,  invasion  [of  England  33  ff., 

in  Romance  countries  78. 
gerund  200 ff.,  see  ing. 
gestic  143  note. 
get   70,    231,    get   clea?    224, 

I  have  got  224,  gat  231. 
get-at-able  109. 
gift  70. 

Gill,  on  Latin  influence  150. 
give  70. 

glass,  glaze  168. 
God   42,    compounds    45,    in 

oaths  245. 
gospel  43,  45. 
gossip  171. 
gown  36. 
grammar,  simplification  of  80, 

160,  163,  I78ff. 
greed  173. 
Greek  114'ff. 
Grimm's  Law  -Ji^  OA. 
group-genitive  180. 
grovel  173. 
Grundy,  Mrs.  233. 

hale  66. 

hallow  42. 

handbook  47. 

haplology  186. 

har binge  173. 

harmony  of  language  141, 

harTy  97. 

have  auxiliary  206. 



hawk  173. 

heathen  43. 

heaven  76  note. 

hegemony  142. 

helpmate  241. 

hence  68. 

henchman  233. 

henpeck  174. 

^d?r  72, 

heraldry  82. 

hodgepodge  234. 

/^<?/w  71. 

^^/j/,  i-^/w/  100. 

homiciae  133. 

housekeep  174. 

housel  42. 

humorous  application  of  learn- 
ed words  122,  147. 

Huxley  on  the  genius  of  Eng- 
lish and  Latin  127. 

hybridity  41,   106,   107,   123. 

hyperbohcal  expressions  11. 

/,  the  pronoun  237. 
-iacal  123. 

-ie  13- 

ifnpeachment  233. 

in-,  causes  ambiguity  140. 

inch  32. 

indispensable  109. 

Indo-European,  see  Arian. 

in/angthief  74. 

infinitives,  French  104,  syntax 

ing  106,  200  ff.,  as  a  noun  201, 
with  an  object  202,  with 
adverbs  20 1 ,  tense  and  voice 
203,  with  a  subject  204. 

inhabitable  140. 

insomnia,  sleeplessness  138. 

intensity   no. 

inter-  124. 

international  124. 

international  words  138. 

intonation  12. 

inverted  word-order  14. 

invoice  103  note. 

-ish,  in  verbs  104,  in  adjectives 

island,  isle  97. 
-ism,  -ist  122  {. 
Italian  loan  words  31,   151. 
-He  123. 
item  119. 
its  205. 
-ize  123. 

jackass  in  Australia    157  note. 

James  103. 

jaunty  112. 

jaw  171. 

jehu  243. 

Jesse  243. 

Jezebel  243. 

jocular  classicisms  122,  147. 

Johnson,  Dr.  Samuel  126,  135, 

Jutes  34. 

-kin  13. 

kindergarten  153. 

kine  191. 

kingly,  royal,  regal  131. 

kirk  67. 

^m  170. 

kitchen  32. 

^«z/^  75. 

Knut  60,  61. 

kodak  158. 

labour  56. 

labyrinth,  adjectives  from  132. 

lake  97. 

language  116, 

Latin,  earliest  loan-words  32, 
spoken  in  England  35,  influ- 
ence in  modern  times  ii4flf., 
French     and    Latin     115  ff., 



number  of  words  118,  de- 
viations from  Latin  usage 
iigff.,  hybrids  123,  style  and 
syntax  125  ff,,  benefits  and 
disadvantages  128  ff. 

laugh,  laughter  167. 

laughable  109. 

law  74. 

laze  173. 
K    Layamon,  French  words  in  94. 
p    learned  words   I2i,    131,   132, 
138,  144,  plurals  141. 

legal   words  Scandinavian  74, 
French  84  f. 

I      -less  66. 
-let  13. 
levy  104. 
like  209. 
-ling  173. 

loan-words  in  general  30  f.,  37, 

^        i54ff.,  technical  31,  32,  38  ff., 

73fif.,  82ff,  121,  I5iff.,  non- 

»        technical  76 ff.,   92 ff.,   128  ff. 
logic  in  grammar  15. 
long  words,  psychological  effect 

of  137- 
loose  66. 
loot  151. 
Lowell,   on  newspaper  writing 


machine  and   derivatives    117. 
mag-nitude  133. 
P    main  97. 

Malapropisms  143. 

male  animals  247. 

manly  and  synonyms  133. 

manslaughter  133. 

many  97. 

matin,  momi?tg  100. 

meaning      of      Shakespearian 

words  219  f. 
means  188. 

men  and  women,  linguistically 

different,  7,  11,  12,  18. 
Micawber's  style  135. 
mile  32. 
military    words,    Scandinavian 

73,  French  83,  others  151. 
mill  32. 
Milton,  syntax  126,  vocabulary 

214,  216,  surround  233. 
mine  179. 
mint  32. 
Miss  175. 

mixed  languages  37,  78. 
mob  176. 

monosyllabism,   force   of  8,  9. 
monosyllables     from     various 

sources   175  ff. 
monger  32. 
mortar  32. 

move,   movement,    motion   1O7. 
murder   133, 

musical  terms,  Italian  31. 
mutation,  plurals  186,  verbs  1 70. 
mutin,  derivatives  iii. 

National  character  i,  2,  5.  1*^) 
II,  12,  13,  14,  16,  17,  18,  28, 
50,  73,  92,  93. 148, 155,  237  ff, 
240  f.,  244 ff. 

native  words  as  contrasted  with 
loan-words  41  ff. 

navy  176. 

nay  66. 

nephew  97. 

neuter,  Scandinavian  79,  Eng- 
lish 205. 

new  words  from  unknown 
sources  177. 

no  66. 

nominative.  Old  French  103. 

Norman,  see  French. 

Norse,  see  Scandinavian. 

Nurwegians6i,  cf.Scandinavian. 



notoriotis  219. 

nouns   in  -ef    162,    and   verbs 

163  ff.,     from      verbs      166, 

becoming  adjectives  210. 
now-a-days  220. 
number,  concord  16,  formation 

of  plural  141,  185  ff. 
number    of  words    I28ff.,    in 

individual  vocabularies  2 1 4  ff. 
numerals  199. 

oaths  244! 

obscuration  of  vowels  26,  139. 

occupy  219. 

-ocracy  123. 

odd  76. 

of  181,  183,  oj  his  184,  holy 
of  holies  242. 

offer  39. 

Old  English  (Anglo-Saxon), 
relations  to  other  Germanic 
languages  34,  dialects  34,  53, 
loans  from  Celtic 36,  influence 
of  Christianity  38  ff.,  loans 
from  Latin  and  Greek  38ff., 
native  formations  41  ff., 
literary  capacities  48,  poetry 
49  ff.,  synonyms  49,  seafaring 
terms  49,    50,   prose  48,  55. 

-ology  123. 

once  209. 

one  208. 

Orrmulum,   French  words   94. 

participle,  absolute  125,  cf.  ing 
and  passive. 

pander  233. 

parts  246. 

passive,  English  17,  Scandi- 
navian 79,  of  ing  203,  is  being 
built  206. 

Paul  Pry  233. 

pea,  pease  32,   188. 

pear  32. 

PecksnifJ^  233. 

pedantry,  absence  of,  16,  17. 

peadle  i']'^. 

peppe?  32. 

perfect  116. 

perfect  206.  , 

periphrastic  tenses  15,  206. 

pet  173. 

petty  84. 

phrases  used   attributively  17, 

French  92. 
phthisis  142. 
picture  116. 
place-names,  Scandinavian  60, 

translated  156. 
plough  71. 
plunder  151. 
plural,  learned  formations  141, 

ordinary    185  ff.,  raised  to  a 

second  power  191,  unchanged 

192,  of  verbs  193. 
poetry.  Old  English  49,  its  form 

54,  language  of  poetry  distinct 

from    prose    language     53, 

225   ff. 
political  words,  French  82. 
politician  21  g. 
ponder   119. 
pony  36. 
pre-  124. 
premises  119. 
prepositions,  Latin  and  Greek 

124,  place  126. 
privy  246. 
pro-  124, 
profane  language,  Act  against 

progress     in     word-formation 

1 60,  in  grammar  178  ff. 
progressive  tenses  15,  206. 
pronouns,  Scandinavian  72,  76, 

English  126,  205,  208,  237  ff. 



pronunciation  of  learned  words 

proper  names,  adjectives  from, 

131,  139. 
prose,  Old  English  48,  55,  cf. 

provoke  119. 
prudery  245  ff. 

pseudo-antique  formations  230, 
punctilium  122, 
puisne,  puny  84. 
pup  173. 
Puritanism  244  fF, 

gua?'i  112. 

I    quasi-classical  words  121,   122. 
quince  103  note. 
raise  66. 
re-  124. 
rear  66. 
reduplicated  perfects  27. 
relative  pronoun,  omission  81, 
126,   who,   which,   that  126, 
which  205. 
reliable  109. 
remodelling  of  French  words 

113,  116. 
remorse  219. 
Renaissance  114. 
resolution,  resolve  167. 
retort  165. 
rhinoceros  141. 
rhythm  235. 
rich  97. 
riches  187. 
richness  of  the  English  language 


riding  74. 

rimes,  male  and  female  8. 

riming  locutions  234. 

Robert  of  Gloucester  96. 

rout,  route  112. 

rove  173. 

Jesphrsen  :  English.     2nd  ed. 

S  in  French  nominatives  103, 
voiceless  in  nouns,  voiced 
in  verbs  168,  in  genitives 
180  fF.,  in  plurals  185  ff., 
s  for  ses  186;  in  verbs 
193  ff. 

sail  171. 

salon,  saloon  112. 

sa7ne  72. 

Sarah  Gamp  233. 

Saxons  34. 

Scandinavian  57fif.,  similarity 
with  English  62,  Anglicizing 
63,  parallel  forms  65  ff., 
influence  on  meaning  71, 
Scandinavian  words  readily 
associated  with  native  words 
72,  spheres  of  signification 
73ff.,  military  words  73, 
legal  terms  74,  commonplace 
words  76,  Scandinavian  in 
U.  S.  78,  forms  of  loan-words 

79,  influence    on    grammar 

80,  81. 

scientific  nomenclature  114, 
121,  138. 

scie7itist  121. 

scriptural  phrases  241. 

seat  71,  170. 

self  208. 

sell  170. 

sensible  no. 

sentences,  abbreviated  10,  used 
attributively  17. 

sex  and  language  7,  11,  12,  18. 

Shakespeare  213 ff.,  range  of 
vocabulary  214 ff.,  religious 
views  217,  individual  char- 
acters 218,  Euphuism  218, 
meanings  different  from 
modern  219,  Shylock  221, 
periods  in  Shakespeare's  fife 
222,       provincialisms       222, 



boldness  of  language  223, 
the  First  and  Second  Folios 
223,  use  of  new  words  224, 
poetic  diction  225,  words 
and  phrases  due  to  him  228. 

shall  81,  206. 

sheer  219. 

Sherlock  Holmes  233. 

Shetland  78  (note  p.  79). 

Shylock's  language  221. 

sidle  173. 

simplification  of  grammar  80, 
160,  163,  lySff. 

siste?  70. 

sit  170. 

size  133. 

sky  76  note. 

slang  176,  243,  244 ff. 

smoke  171. 

sobriety  11. 

sounds  3,26,1 39,  sound-changes 
in  French  words  105,  112. 

specializing  in  primitive  vocab- 
ularies 51  ff 

Spencer,  Herbert,  on  classical 
studies   127,   on  long  words 

Spenser,    influence    on    poetic 

style  229. 
split  infinitive  211. 
sport  89. 
squirearchy  123. 
stick,  stitch  169. 
stress,     French     and    English 

contrasted     28,     in    French 

words    105,    in    Latin    and 

Greek  139, 
stress-shift,   Germanic   25 — 28. 
strong  verbs  29,  178. 
style,     Old    EngHsh     48,     49, 

Latin  127,  use  of  synonyms 

98,  135,  Johnsonese  144  ff., 

journalese  148. 

subjunctive  20b. 

succeed,  success  219. 

suffixes  i6off. 

surround  233. 

syllable  construction  5. 

synonyms  in  Old  English  49  ff, 
heaven,  sky  76  note,  collo- 
cated 98,  135,  French  and 
native  100,  Latin  and  native 
133  ff.,  move,  motion,  feel, 
feeling,  etc.   167. 

syntax  14,  15,  16,  17,  Scandin- 
avian 80a,  Latin  125!,  geni- 
tive 180  ff.,  plural  187,  i9of., 
ing  200 ff.,  verbs  206,  211, 
pronouns  208,  conjunctions 
209,  compounds  210,  Shy- 
lock's  221,  Shakespeare's 

take  79. 

telegraphic  style  10. 
Tennyson,  prefers  Saxon  words 

tense-system   15,    22,   29,   206. 
th  voiceless  in  nouns,  voiced 

in  verbs  168,  in  third  singular 

193  ff.,  in  ordinals  199. 
that,     omission     81,     relative 

pronoun  126. 
thetiee  68. 

they,  them,  their  70,  72. 
thou  232,  237  f. 
thoughtread  174. 
thrall  74. 
tithe  42,  199. 
though  70. 
Thursday  70. 
till  64. 
tidings  63. 

to  as  a  pro-infinitive  211. 
tone  12. 
town  36. 



trace  103  note, 
trades,  names  of,  91. 
tradespeople's  coinages  158. 
transpire  119. 
trousers  247. 
trusteeship  1 1 1 . 
trustworthy  109. 
typewrite  174. 

unaccountable  109. 
undemocratic  character  of  clas- 
sical words  143. 
uninhabitable  140. 
usance  221. 

value-stressing  26 ff.,  105. 

venture  116. 

verbal  noun  200  ff.,  see  ing. 

verbs,  strong  29,  178,  weak 
29,  form  of  French  104,  in 
-en    162,    relation   to    nouns 

163  ff. 

verdict  116. 

victuals  ii6. 

vocabulary,     fulness     of,      18, 

I28ff,  individual  214  ff. 
voiced  and  voiceless  consonants 

in  verbs  and  nouns  97,  168. 
vowel-differences  between 

nouns  and  verbs  170. 

vowel -sounds    obscured 

voyage  1 12. 


wag  219. 

want  72. 

wapentake  74. 

wash  52. 

weak  verbs  29. 

weird  228. 

whence  68. 

which  126,  205,  208. 

tuho    208,    for    he    who    125, 

Humble  Petition  of  who  and 

which  126. 
whole  66. 
will  81,  206. 
wi?tdow  75. 
wi?ie  32. 

w^y^,  wireless  138,  171. 
women,    language    of,    7,     11, 

12,   18. 
word-formation  I58ff.,  regular 

processes  i6off. 
word-order  14,  207,  adjectives 

after  nouns  85. 
Wulfstan  48,  55. 

-/  13. 
Yankee  188. 

you  179,  232,   237f. 
References  are  to  sections,  not  to  pages. 

Druck  von  B.  G.  Teubner  in  Dresden. 


14  DAY  USE  ID 



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K£C.  CIR.   M  O'i  '83 

OCT  2  8 1983  ^  -  5 


BEC.C1R.  J0LO5'83 

(N8837sl0)476— A-32 

General  Library 
University  of  California      ^ 



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